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WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A hospital for those who served the country is working with a high school striving to serve its community.   

Lovell Federal Health Care Center is partnering with Cristo Rey St. Martin High School to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics for veterans and their families. Cristo Rey St. Martin made its facility, formerly a K-mart, available when the veteran’s hospital required more space for its vaccination program rollout.

The former department store will soon become a mass vaccination site to administer COVID-19 vaccines to 14,000 military veterans.

“They were looking for a facility big enough to host a number of vaccinations they were doing and we have this great new space,” said Michael Odiotti, principal of the Waukegan-area Catholic high school of 400 students.

Odiotti says moving forward, the goal is simple.

“Get as many people vaccinated as possible and whatever role we can play to assist that will get us back to normal as quickly as possible,” he said.

The military will assist in the three-year-old-school-turned-vaccination-site opening this weekend, April 17-18, and several weekends to follow.

“When we start going from hundreds to thousands, we’re going to need that space,” said Dr. Robert Buckley, director of the Lovell Federal Health Care Center.  

Thanks to the recently passed “Save Lives Act,” the effort will allow thousands of veterans, their spouses and caregivers to make an appointment and receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination, Dr. Buckley adds.  

“Let’s face it, we’ve got to get the vaccine into the arms of the willing,” he added. “We are really hoping that more and more people understand how important it is to be vaccinated.”

For months, Cristo Rey has been helping the Waukegan area deal with the effects of the pandemic through weekly food drives and helping people get vaccinated. The school also sought students like junior Charlize Cardenas to be volunteers.

“With service to others, it’s sort of fits in with us helping others get the vaccination as soon as they can,” said junior Charlize Cardenas.

Veteran’s may register online, on the phone, or in person. Those eligible may visit; or call (224) 610-3747. In-person appointments can be made at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center’s main hospital.

Enrolled VA and Dept. of Defense patients may schedule appointments by calling 224-610-3899.

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