With Chicago COVID vaccine appointments in short supply, many city-dwellers are heading into Northwest Indiana to get their shots at the FEMA site in Gary.
ALEXIS McADAMS: Good evening, Stacey. We saw Illinois plate after Illinois plate coming and going from this mass vaccination site here behind me in Gary, Indiana. Those license plates are part of a growing trend of people hitting the road to get their COVID-19 dose. The COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Gary, Indiana, is busy.
DR. ROLAND WALKER: Wherever you put a site, people are going to find it and come.
ALEXIS McADAMS: It's not just Hoosiers coming to the federally run site.
DR. ROLAND WALKER: It's really about supply and demand. And we seem to have more supply here right now. So that's why people come to Gary.
ALEXIS McADAMS: Gary's health commissioner, Dr. Roland Walker, says 40% of the people vaccinated at this site so far are from Illinois.
DR. ROLAND WALKER: The border between Indiana and Illinois is an artificial border, right? The people come back and forth all the time.
ALEXIS McADAMS: Many have been searching for a vaccination appointment for weeks. Top health officials in Illinois pushing for residents to drive out and find a dose.
NICK HEFTY: In the city, it's so hard to get it right now. I mean, I have friends that are going out to the suburbs, driving three or four hours to get it right now.
ALEXIS McADAMS: So Nick Hefty drove from Lincoln Park to Gary.
NICK HEFTY: There's appointments open every day for the next few weeks. Like, it's so easy to get an appointment. We were in and out in five minutes. It couldn't have been easier. It was definitely worth the 30-minute drive.
ALEXIS McADAMS: Anthea Dill crossed over into Indiana to get her first dose today. The teen just became eligible.
ANTHEA DILL: I would say, get the vaccine, and go to Gary to get it. I know some of my friends have also come here.
DR. ROLAND WALKER: Our ultimate goal, obviously, is herd immunity. And so we want everybody to come. If we can reach our goal of vaccinating over 100,000 people in the eight weeks, I'll be very excited.
ALEXIS McADAMS: Now they are on track to vaccinate that many people here in the next eight weeks. The goal, 3,000 people every single day. That includes 2,000-- you can show up here at the site, either driving up or walking up, which many people are also taking advantage of that walk-up site, which is right here behind me at this tent in Gary at the old high school. But they also have a mobile vaccine unit that can go to people across the Northwest Indiana region.
Health officials tell us the goal, though, is to work together to vaccinate as many people as possible. They don't mind if people are coming to this federally run site to get their COVID-19 vaccine because there's no residential requirements, because it's run by FEMA.