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Gov. Pritzker announces National Guard deploying to Lake, McHenry counties to help with COVID vaccinations

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Thursday that the Illinois National Guard has been deployed to help bolster COVID-19 vaccination operations in Lake and McHenry counties.

Pritzker said that the additional state resources are deploying to support both the Lake County Health Department and McHenry County Department of Health.

The resources include Illinois National Guard support to “enhance efforts already underway by both local health departments,” the governor’s office said.

This week, National Guard teams will be deployed to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake to increase vaccination capacity while a mobile vaccination team will be operating in McHenry County communities.

“Illinois has built a robust vaccination infrastructure that has allowed to get vaccine doses out to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” Pritzker said.

“A significant aspect of that plan is our Illinois National Guard state-supported vaccination sites, and I’m proud to make these locations even more accessible to residents of McHenry and Lake Counties,” he said.

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Pritzker said more than 4 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state and Illinois “is getting the job done.” He encourages all residents to get vaccinated when it is their turn to end the pandemic.

The state’s network of vaccination sites operates in addition to the state’s mobile vaccination teams, which are deployed statewide to increase access in rural and underserved communities.

At the direction of the area local health department, mobile teams move from site to site within counties offering direct assistance to underserved communities with a focus on those unable to visit mass vaccination sites or other clinics, including rural, undocumented, and/or Black and Brown communities.

Mobile teams are operating in conjunction with the following Illinois health departments: St. Clair, Southern Seven, Sangamon, Madison, Winnebago, Rock Island, McLean, Grundy, Vermilion, DeKalb, McHenry and Cook.

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More than 75 teams of National Guard are supporting vaccination sites across the state each day, the governor’s office said.

More than 1,380 Illinois National Guard service members are assisting with COVID-19 response throughout Illinois with the number of Guard members activated expected to increase as the state-assisted sites grow.

“We are pleased to welcome the Illinois National Guard to Lake County to enhance the capacity we’ve been building over the past several months,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department.

“The teams of vaccinators provided will free up our existing staff to serve at more locations throughout Lake County and assure equitable distribution of vaccine,” Pfister said.

“The addition of a mobile and fixed team will help us expand our capacity so that we can get more residents vaccinated faster. The staffing resources the guard brings will not only enable us to expand the hours of operation and serve more people at the McHenry mass vaccination, but also strategically target businesses and communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Melissa Adamson, Public Health Administrator of the McHenry County Department of Health.

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There is no charge to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and insurance is not required. The vaccine will be administered regardless of immigration status, officials have said.

Vaccinations are available only by appointment and residents are encouraged to check back frequently for open appointments, health officials said.