Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the state of Illinois is launching public-private partnerships to make vaccination clinics readily available for travelers.
The state, with the help of Amtrak, Walmart, TravelCenters of America, Wally’s and HyVee, will host vaccination clinics at Union Station in Chicago and at travel centers in Mt. Vernon, Troy, Effingham, Bloomington, and Pontiac.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects Memorial Day weekend travel will be 60 percent higher than last year and the state is committed to reaching people where they are to make vaccinations as accessible as possible.
“After an incredibly difficult year, lifesaving vaccines have truly opened the door for a summer of fun and venturing out, which is why Illinois is pulling out all the stops to make accessing these vaccines as easy as stopping for gas,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “With one-shot vaccine stops at Union Station, TravelCenters of America, and along I-55, Memorial Day Weekend travelers will have yet another chance to join the more than 6 million Illinoisans who have gotten vaccinated.”
Nearly 100 trains will operate carrying more than 30,000 travelers passing through Union Station on Amtrak trains this Memorial Day weekend, and this vaccination event creates an easy and convenient solution for travelers.
These vaccination clinics are available Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am – 7:00pm. These clinics will offer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are available to anyone 18-years and older. No appointment is necessary, and vaccines are available at no cost – regardless of insurance status.
“We are proud to help expand access to vaccines – an important part of bringing an end to the pandemic,” said Kevin Thompson, Walmart’s senior director of Public Affairs for Illinois. “Events like this are critical to ensuring all individuals who want the vaccine can get it — and we’re thankful to work with organizations like Amtrak and the State of Illinois to continue this important work.”
“Our nearly 50-year partnership with the State of Illinois involves more than the state-sponsored trains, it includes our commitment to public health and safety,” said Mary Carlson Bis, Amtrak senior director of Emergency Management. “The more our nation is vaccinated, the more we can be free to travel and close some of the distance we’ve all felt during the pandemic.”
The state will also host vaccination clinics at four TravelCenters of America locations in these communities: Mt. Vernon, Troy, Effingham and Bloomington. These vaccination clinics will be available Saturday, May 29 through Tuesday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
Like the clinics at Union Station, these vaccination clinics will offer the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are open to anyone 18-years and older. No appointment is necessary, and vaccines are available at no cost, regardless of insurance status.
Jon Pertchik, CEO of TravelCenters of America, said, “TravelCenters of America has a unique opportunity to help the state get professional drivers and others vaccinated and we are committed to doing our part to eliminate barriers to receiving care. Our travel centers are positioned to serve professional drivers who cannot park at a traditional pharmacy or doctor’s office or schedule a set appointment time. By alleviating significant challenges faced by professional drivers and other guests, we are delivering on our mission of returning every traveler to the road better than they came.”
Additionally, the state and Wally’s and Hy-Vee will have a vaccination clinic for travelers along I-55 outside Pontiac. This clinic will be held on Monday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This walk-in clinic will also offer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and is available to anyone 18-years and older.
“We are excited to partner with Wally’s and the State of Illinois to increase COVID-19 vaccine access for those traveling throughout Illinois this Memorial Day weekend,” said Angie Danielson, pharmacy supervisor for Hy-Vee’s east region.
“Wally’s is committed to enabling easy access to vaccinations for our guests, our team members and the local Pontiac community in participation with the State of Illinois and Hy-Vee,” said Andy Strom, chief experience officer for Wally’s.”
As a bit of extra incentive, Wally’s will be offering a free Wally’s fountain drink to anyone who gets vaccinated on Monday. Details will be provided on-site upon vaccination.
While 66 percent of adults (18 and older) in Illinois have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that percent needs to increase to help prevent new variants from causing a resurgence of cases in Illinois.
In addition to these Memorial Day weekend vaccination clinics, there are more than 1,000 locations in Illinois offering the COVID-19 vaccine.
To find a vaccine location near you, visit www.coronavirus.illinois.gov.