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'It's time to go live life': IMMY Labs continues to ramp up vaccinations, seeks to provide hope for Oklahomans

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COVID-19 clinic

Participants wait at IMMY Lab's March 15 COVID-19 vaccination clinic. 

The Embassy Suites’ Oklahoma Grand Ballroom took on an atmosphere of laughter, smiles and upbeat music as hundreds of Oklahomans lined up for their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine from IMMY Labs Monday.

IMMY Labs CEO Sean Bauman, who was greeting those who had already received their first vaccine through IMMY, said most of the crowd was made up of teachers who were eligible for initial vaccinations in February. Bauman said Monday was another big step for the community to return to “normal times.”

“You've got a lot of teachers throughout the metro who are here getting their second shot,” Bauman said. “So for them, this is hope for a light at the end of the tunnel (and) a return to normal life. Really, that's what this is about.”

Bauman said IMMY’s vaccination numbers have risen from 100 per clinic to 1,000, then to 5,000, and now to 10,000 since vaccinations first began in January. He said when vaccinations were ready for distribution, IMMY and the Embassy Suites immediately came to an understanding about what needed to be done. 

“The Embassy Suites has been crazy awesome,” Bauman said. “Just to be able to let us come in here and vaccinate in their space, (they’ve) just been so accommodating to us. … They’ve just been fantastic.”

Individuals waiting to be vaccinated spread out in chairs throughout the 22,000 square-foot room, making for what some described as an easy process. The parking lot had a sizable amount of traffic caused by people entering and leaving the building from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“I think it was super easy, (and) it went really well,” Sheila Johnston, a biology teacher at Norman North High School, said. “It's a great thing. I think it's amazing.”

According to the New York Times, 24.2 percent of Oklahoma’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, making it one of 12 states with this level of vaccine response. More citizens are being vaccinated through Phase 3 of the state vaccination plan, which began March 9.

With Oklahoma still considered one of the top examples of vaccinating its citizens statistically, Bauman said the goals should be aiming for higher standards. He said he wants to get as many people vaccinated as possible before May 31, and become one of the best states in terms of the number of vaccinations given. 

“The push is now on: ‘How do we go get more people vaccinated between now and Memorial Weekend?’” Bauman said. “And let's not be top 10, let’s be No. 1 in the country in vaccinating our citizens so that we can return to normal, give Oklahomans their summers back. Just be normal. … Yes, you're giving a vaccine, but really what you're giving is hope. It's hard to be bummed out about hope, right? It's this celebration when you hear the music when we walked in here and then as they walked out, it's music. It's time to go live life.”

Caleb McCourry is an intern news reporter at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. Caleb has previously served as the sports desk's editor and assistant editor, covering football, basketball and volleyball. Caleb is a Norman native.

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