Georgia 13-year-old says getting vaccinated brings back summer camp, in-person school

As Georgia begins vaccinating teens 12 and older, 13-year-old Emerson Frost of Marietta says her summer just got a whole lot better.

"I was just, like — I don't even know how to describe it, I was just really, really happy," Frost says.

The Cobb County middle school student has spent the last 14 months at home, going to online school, connecting with her friends over the phone at night.

After spending the last year sticking close to home, 13-year-old Emerson Frost cannot wait to get vaccinated. (Frost family photo)

She misses her old life, back before the pandemic.

RELATED: FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15

"I keep telling them the first thing I want to do, when I get the vaccine, like when I get fully vaccinated, is go to the aquarium, because that was my favorite thing to do, and we haven't been in forever," Frost says.

She already has an appointment for her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and hopes to be fully vaccinated before she leaves for Camp Blue Ridge in July.

Camp, she says, is the high point of her year.

RELATED: FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12 to 15, pediatricians reach out to parents

When Blue Ridge was forced to cancel last summer's camp, Frost was crushed.

"I'm very, very excited to be able to go back this year. because I get to see all my friends again," Frost says, her voice catching.

Her mom Kate Frost says it has been a difficult year for Emerson.

Young girls stands on steps outside her summer camp. She is wearing a t-shirt that says "camp" and is smiling, with her hands on her hips. She looks happy.

13-year-old Emerson Frost of Marietta, Georgia, was disappointed when her camp was cancelled last summer because of the pandemic. This year, she'll return to camp fully vaccinated. (Emerson family photo)

"It's happy tears," Frost says. "It's an emotional time, but it's a positive time."

Emerson's mother says she has done some researcher on the vaccine in children and feels it's safe for her daughter.

"I have been vaccinated myself," she says. "My parents have been vaccinated.  We haven't experienced any side effects. I had the Pfizer vaccine myself. So, knowing Emerson will be getting the Pfizer vaccine also gives me comfort."

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor survey found parents are divided over vaccinating their young teens, with just under one-third eager to do it, and two-thirds either against it, waiting for more information or delaying immunizing their young teens until schools require the vaccine. 

Girl in baseball hat swings a tennis racket at a ball.

At 13, Emerson Frost of Marietta already has an appointment to receive her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatrician and WebMD medical editor Dr. Hansa Bhargava says she understands parents have questions.

"I've seen those polls, and I do understand that people are thoughtful about the vaccine, and that makes sense," Dr. Bhargava says.  "They should get as much information as possible. But, I would advise parents that, to protect their kids, to protect their families, to protect everyone, even from the variants, it's just really really important to get them vaccinated."

The potential side effects of the vaccine have left some parents hesitant to get their young teens vaccinated.

In a study of 2,200 volunteers ages 12 to 15, researchers found teens had similar side effects to adults.

The most common complaints included arm pain, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and fever.

The side effects typically ease within a few days.

Young girl stands in front of rock formation with her hands on her hips. She is wearing shorts and a t-shirt and is smiling at the camera.

 Emerson Frost hopes getting vaccinated will be the first step in getting her old life back.

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