GARY, Ind. (CBS) — Some Chicagoans struggling to find a vaccination appointment are crossing the Indiana state line.
As CBS 2’s Brandon Merano reported Saturday, a mass-vaccination site in Gary just opened to Illinois residents.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Showers By Daybreak
Driving through downtown Gary looks like a ghost town – with shuttered doors to businesses and a welcome sign painted with graffiti. But at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy, a Federal Emergency Management Administration-run mass COVID-19 vaccination site is booming.
Mary Taylor-Blasi came all the way from Rogers Park.
“We have a young one at home who is at risk, so the more we can to do get vaccinated, the better it is for him,” Taylor-Blasi said.
Taylor-Blasi said the Gary site is very much a welcome sight.
“Very thankful,” she said. “I think it makes it much easier as you kind of try and figure out how to schedule this in such a way that you can continue to go on with your life and stuff like that.”
Hundreds of cards came through the Gary site on Saturday, and at rough count, Merano estimated at least half of them were from Illinois.
A total of 1.3 million Hoosiers 16 and older have already been fully vaccinated – amounting to about 24 percent of Indiana residents.READ MORE: Oak Lawn Woman Got Locked Out Of Her Facebook Business Account, And Even Facebook Can't Be Sure If The Email To Blame Was A Scam
“We’re really grateful for FEMA and active-duty Air Force people who are here,” said Susanne Gilbert of Morton Grove.
In Chicago, about 35 percent of people have received their first dose. Still, residents said one big problem remains.
“Well, it was pretty hard to get vaccine appointments,” Gilbert said.
That is one reason the federal government opened the mass-vaccination site in Gary to out-of-state residents.
“The numbers are going up in Chicago, so the more we can do to get those numbers going down, the better,” Taylor-Blasi said.
Some people with whom we spoke said they were originally planning to drive as far as Springfield to get their shot.
“You know, we’ve been in a crisis, and there have been a lot of problems, but hopefully, they will be able to solve those problems we do have so in the future, a crisis like this will be more manageable,” Gilbert said.
To sign up for an appointment at the Gary, Indiana location, head to ourshot.in.gov or call 211 or (866) 211-9966.MORE NEWS: They Had A Tough Year Of E-Learning, But Southland College Prep Seniors Have Now Racked Up More Than $50 Million In Combined Merit Scholarships
CBS 2 reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Illinois to see if any plans were in place to increase appointment availability in the Chicago area. As of Saturday night, we had not heard back.