GURNEE — Following yesterday's expansion of vaccine eligibility to 12- to 15-year-olds, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Six Flags Great America - the Thrill Capital of the Midwest - will offer 50,000 free tickets to their parks in Gurnee and Rockford to newly vaccinated Illinois residents.
The value of the donated tickets is $4 million.
"Throughout the pandemic, Six Flags has been All In for Illinois, putting the health of workers and visitors first," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I know it's been a difficult year - but that just makes it all the more exciting to be back at the park. Thanks to the life-saving power of vaccinations, it feels once again like summer's in the air."
"Six Flags Great America is proud to support the state of Illinois vaccination efforts, especially in underrepresented communities," said Six Flags Great America Park President Hank Salemi. "We're getting back to the thrills and want to do our part to encourage residents to get vaccinated."
Health experts agree that getting vaccinated is how we'll all get back to the things we've missed during the pandemic, including thrilling rollercoasters, waterparks and live entertainment.
To make sure the tickets have broad reach, the state is sending Illinois National Guard mobile vaccination teams to their Gurnee location starting the first weekend in June: Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th. If turnout is high, vaccination teams will return to continue offering this lifesaving protection to residents. Six Flags Great America will announce additional details in the coming weeks.
In addition, a significant portion of the tickets will be distributed through local health departments to use in the way that will best work in their community. Specific initiatives will be rolled out by the departments of public health in the city of Chicago, Cook County and the Collar Counties — including equity mobile missions in neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates, school-based clinics, full-family vaccination initiatives and mass vaccination clinics. More information will become available on a county-by-county basis.
Finally, to focus on underserved youth and their families, the Vaccine Corps Partnership incubated at Michael Reese Health Trust will deploy the tickets as a part of their hyper-local vaccine education campaign. The organization works with community-led organizations to build trust in the vaccine, primarily in the city of Chicago and Cook County. Learn more about the partnership on their website.
The latest vaccine incentive announcement comes on the heels of the federal authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, which young people can get on its own or along with other routine vaccinations. Residents are encouraged to use the CDC's vaccine finder tool at www.vaccines.gov to see which locations have vaccine available and to filter by manufacturer.