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Ellie and Kathy Weymiller got vaccinated for COVID-19 to protect themselves, each other, and the rest of us.

Ellie Weymiller is a 16-year-old junior at Gig Harbor High School. She waited patiently for her turn to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and when the time came, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I have never felt so much relief in my life,” she said about getting her first dose of Pfizer vaccine in mid-April. 

She was happy to let more vulnerable people go first, but she was also ready to do everything she can to put the pandemic behind us. More than anything, she wants to protect her mom and dad.

Kathy and Ellie Weymiller pose for a picture.

“They were who I was worried about the most,” she said. “There was always kind of a fear that if I went out somewhere, I may bring COVID home. But now knowing that I can get vaccinated fully too, it just makes everything so much better.”

Ellie’s mom Kathy is an elementary school principal. She got her first dose of vaccine in January and has been fully vaccinated for months. She saw Ellie’s emotion firsthand.

“She was literally teary because she was so excited to get vaccinated,” Kathy said. “She’s an adoptee and we’re older. She has older grandparent figures in her life as well and she doesn’t want to hurt them. She’s really concerned about making sure all of us are safe.”

Safer as a group.

Kathy and her husband Pete adopted Ellie when she was a baby from Russia.

“I have older brothers, but my mom always said something was missing,” Ellie said. “My mom was like, ‘We always had an empty seat at the table.’ My life would be so, so different without them.”

Kathy said their bond made it all the more important for Ellie to get the vaccine.

“Ellie was terrified about getting us sick,” she said. “She goes out into the world. She’d practically hose herself down before coming back in the house. She just took all that very seriously.”

Ellie didn’t see any other way.

“My mom has always been there,” she said. “She was my principal for a good chunk of elementary school, and we get along really well. She’s a good person, but also really good at being a mom.”

Ellie was happy when her parents got vaccinated. She knew it was the right thing to do. She was even happier once she had the chance to get the vaccine.

“I was already kind of on-board,” she said. “But it made it even better that my entire family could be vaccinated, and we could kind of all heal from this together. Every day we just feel safer as a group.”

School and sports.

“I never considered not getting vaccinated for COVID-19,” Kathy said. “It always felt like the right thing to do for myself, my family and the community.”

Being around kids all day made it even more important.

“I work with people who are fragile,” she said. “I take my responsibility to the community very seriously, but also I just feel more comfortable interacting in the world knowing I have that additional layer of protection.”

Being back in-person learning has been great, Kathy said, but she’s felt much more comfortable since getting the vaccine.

“I feel a real sense of relief,” she said. “If a student appears to be symptomatic, I could be the one taking care of them until they are picked up. I’m right there holding hands, wiping foreheads and drying tears—so it’s really nice to know that I have that extra level of defense.”

Ellie knows other kids at her school that have gotten the vaccine and she’s hoping that trend continues.

“Most of the people I know and am good friends with have recently gotten their first shots, which I’m really happy about,” she said.

She’s on the lacrosse team and she says everyone is enjoying playing sports again after so many seasons were canceled last year.

“Everyone is so relieved to have our season back,” she said. “Some people are a little mad that it’s shorter but honestly I’m just so glad that we get to play at all.”

Kathy agrees sports have been a welcome return. 

“It’s super exciting,” she said. “Our family is very sporty. It’s our social life, our recreation. It’s wonderful.”

She sees the vaccine as the best tool to help us keep opening things up. She also sees it as the best way to help keep children who aren’t yet eligible yet to get COVID-19 vaccine safe.

“I’m a big believer that if everyone does what they can, the people who don’t have a choice are better off because of it,” she said. “We are collectively protecting them as well.”

Camp, travel and all the things we’ve missed.

We’re all still working to get back many of the things we lost in 2020.

“Camp is one of my most favorite places on Earth,” Ellie said. “It’s like my second home. I’ve been going to YMCA Camp Seymour since I was like 9 or 10. It’s just made me such a better person.”

She still finds it hard to describe how disappointing it was to miss out on last year.

“I’ve made so many important and long-lasting relationships. It’s just great to be able to go back to that because we were supposed to have it last summer, but it was pretty much impossible with no vaccine,” she said. “It’s really, really nice to hear that we can go back.”

Kathy has already enjoyed traveling to see loved ones with without worry since she got fully vaccinated.

“A family member passed away, and my cousin needed help cleaning out her house,” she said. “I was able to travel to Palm Springs with a certain amount of confidence and that was great.”

She has more travel plans.

“I have another trip coming up,” she said. “My son is going to get promoted in the Army. He’s going to become a captain, and we are able to travel to Hawaii to see him. It feels safe.”

These are the experiences many of us missed out, and they are returning with the vaccine. For us to get closer to our pre-pandemic lives we need everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to get vaccinated for their own good and for the good of our community,” Kathy said. “We’ll get back to normal faster.”

Find your vaccine today at Or call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week!

It’s also important to continue to take all the steps possible to prevent the spread of COVID: