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Pritzker tours vaccination center at Morton East High school


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker toured a state designated vaccination site on Thursday located at Morton East High school, 2423 South Austin Boulevard, in the Town of Cicero.

Pritzker announced during the tour that the state will receive $45 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase local health departments’ vaccination efforts.

“The capacity to deliver, to administer vaccines across the state is significantly increasing,” Pritzker said. The governor cited a drive-thru facility located in Lake County he said will administer 1,000 vaccines a day.

Joining Pritzker during the tour was Morton High School Supt. Dr. Tim Truesdale, Morton High School Board President Jeffry Pesek, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State legislators Lisa Hernandez and Michael Zalewski, and Cicero officials including Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Senior Director Diana Dominick and the Illinois Adjutant General Major General Richard R. Neely.

“We are honored to have Governor Pritzker visit Morton East High school and show support for our efforts to distribute the vaccinations,” Truesdale said. “To beat the coronavirus, we have to do it as a team and work together.”

Pesek told the governor that Morton is willing to have their school properties and staff assist in distributing the vaccines to the public.

“We are the only school district in Cook County that has a health clinic funded by the county and we appreciate the support that we continue to receive,” Pesek said. “Our health clinic will be on the frontlines of distributing the COVID-19 vaccinations and we appreciate the governor coming here to show support for what we are doing.”

Cicero’s Health Department has administered 2,000 vaccinations during the past week at the Cicero Community Center. Individuals receiving the vaccination were required to schedule an appointment with the Health Department using the Town’s website and completing a special vaccination form. But hundreds of people showed up hoping that vaccinations might be available to walk-ins and without an appointment.

“It was important for the Governor to see how Cicero is doing everything it can to administer the vaccinations as efficiently as possible,” Maria Punzo-Arias said. “The governor’s presence here today shows that he wants to do everything he can to get everyone in the state vaccinated.”

Under the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines only individuals listed in the Category 1A and 1B designations can receive the vaccine. That includes first responders, health care workers, employees and individuals 65 years of age and older.

Diana Dominick said that the Senior Center was helping to coordinate the vaccinations among the town’s senior citizen community.

“We are helping seniors to schedule their appointments and as more vaccinations come in and are made available to the Town of Cicero, we will eventually be able to ensure that every senior gets their vaccination for the COVID-19 virus,” Diana Dominick said.

Also attending the tour with the governor were Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha, Jr., and Cook County Director of External Affairs Sandra Lewis.