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CHICAGO – A former Kmart is turning into a mass vaccination site in Des Plaines, with the Illinois National Guard supporting the effort. 

Illinois currently supports 18 mass vaccination sites, including two new locations in Des Plaines and Quincy.

About 20,000 vaccine appointments are expected to be available in Cook County for seniors and essential workers starting at 1 p.m. Thursday. The Des Plaines locations will be the state’s first large-scale site to administer the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine that requires only one dose.

The first Johnson & Johnson shipment was delayed and depending on its arrival, vaccinations could start either on Friday or Saturday for essential workers and people over the age of 65.

Cook County health officials say people who sign up for appointments can choose which vaccine they want to be administered but emphasized all three options are safe and effective.

“I think the best vaccine for you is the one you can get immediately,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, with the Cook County Department of Public Health. “I think everyone needs to be vaccinated as soon as they become eligible.”

Up to 3,500 vaccination shots a day could be administered at the former Kmart located at Oakton Street.

The news comes as signups are set to begin Thursday at 8:30 a.m. for the mass vaccination site at the United Center. More than 110,000 appointments will be available, with Illinois seniors taking top priority. Appointments for people younger than 65 with underlying health conditions will open Sunday.

Locals can sign up for an appointment through or by calling 312-746-4835. The hotline is open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

On Thursday, March 4 the hotline will open at 8:30 a.m.

The Illinois Department of Public Health urges residents who have received their first vaccination to sign up for the ‘”V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker” to communicate directly with the CDC about any potential side effects and receive texts reminding them about their second dose. 

On Tuesday, more than 80,000 doses were administered in Illinois. Gov. Pritzker said he expects the average daily delivery of doses from the federal government to surpass 100,000 later this month.

On Wednesday, Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, said, “Before the opening of large sites like this one in Des Plaines, things were pretty grim but I’m very grateful and I see brighter days ahead.”

To learn more about Illinois’ COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program, click here. To contact the Vaccine Sign-Up Hotline, call 833-308-1988 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday – Friday.

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