Walk-ins welcome: DeKalb County Health Department begins open vaccine clinics for all, no appointment necessary

Here are some options in the coming weeks for walk-in vaccine clinics throughout DeKalb County

SANDWICH - Arron Nicklas got a one-and-done Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at the walk-in clinic at Sandwich High School just in time for a planned trip to Las Vegas at the end of May.

Nicklas, 29, of Sandwich, is a regional operations manager for a snow plowing company and said that while the clinic welcomed walk-ins, he’d made an appointment ahead of time to receive his first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“I originally had made my appointment for the first time the Johnson and Johnson came out, and then they canceled it,” Nicklas said. “It was supposed to be at [Northern Illinois University] so then I signed up for the first dose of Moderna here at Sandwich, and when I got here they had [Johnson & Johnson].”

The clinic inside the gymnasium at Sandwich High Thursday, which offered both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, marked a new step in the DeKalb County Health Department’s vaccine rollout, which no longer is requiring appointments. Vaccine clinics operated by the health department at NIU’s Convocation Center and other locations, including Genoa High School in the coming weeks, will welcome all walk-ins, regardless of whether or not you live or work in DeKalb County, if you’re a citizen. You need only be 18 or older.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to anyone older than 18, or for Pfizer, if you’re 16 or 17 years old.

Nicklas said getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was helpful because he didn’t have to make plans for himself for a second dose.

“I’m glad there was a vaccine for it,” Nicklas said, reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic. “It seems like the majority of people are willing to give it a shot.”

He said he also understands vaccine hesitancy, but got it in part so he could continue to travel.

“This being a rural community, there’s a lot of people that don’t believe in it,” Nicklas said. “I’m all for saying they’re free to make their own decision, and to be honest with you, I’m not sure I would have gone if it wasn’t for me going on this trip [to Las Vegas] and I also do a weeklong fishing trip in Canada.”

Upcoming walk-in vaccine clinics, no appointment needed

The two vaccine providers are the most common offered in the country, and require a second shot about a month after the first: a recommended 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna. Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for 16 and 17-year-olds, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are for those 18 and older.

There currently is no vaccine approved for those younger than 16, although clinical trials are underway. The mass vaccine clinics are hosted by the health department in conjunction with the Illinois National Guard.

While clinics are walk-in now, those taking advantage of the DeKalb County Health Department opportunities still need to look take note of the calendar and ensure they show up during the clinic’s scheduled hours, said Melissa Edwards, health department spokesperson.

“Also, if you are walking in for your 2nd dose appointment, you need to make sure the vaccine you need is the one we are offering at that clinic,” Edwards said. “If you need a second dose Moderna, you cannot walk-in to a Johnson & Johnson clinic. You will need to come to a clinic where Moderna is offered.”

Each vaccine clinic through the health department and Convo Center is with a certain vaccine, whichever the health department has on hand at the time, and will be marked and advertised accordingly so you know which vaccine you’ll get should you attend.

For those wishing to still set up a spot ahead of time, you can visit the below online scheduler to book a time, or call 815-748-2401 if you need help scheduling an appointment, though you also can show up on the day.

Below are a few of the clinics coming up for the next week at the Convocation Center, 1525 West Lincoln Highway.

Monday: NIU Convocation Center Moderna Clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (must be 18 or older)

To register ahead of time if you’d like (not necessary): events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/0fd3d046-fd58-495f-bf18-b5b6fd68c4a6/

Tuesday: NIU Convocation Center Moderna Clinic from noon to 4 p.m. (must be 18 or older)

To register ahead of time if you’d like (not necessary): events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/0fd3d046-fd58-495f-bf18-b5b6fd68c4a6/

May 6: NIU Convocation Center Johnson & Johnson Clinic from 3 to 7 p.m. (must be 18 or older)

To register ahead of time if you’d like (not necessary): events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/0fd3d046-fd58-495f-bf18-b5b6fd68c4a6/

May 11: Johnson & Johnson clinic at Genoa-Kingston High School, 980 Park Ave., Genoa from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (must be 18 or older)

To register ahead of time if you’d like (not necessary): events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/b018e486-fa01-423e-8f37-b3730087552c/.

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.