19-year-old launches effort to ‘Save Summer 2021’ with vaccine

The nonprofit is infiltrating social media, debunking myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and backing it up with reputable sources.
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (5/19/2021) She didn’t get the pomp and circumstance for her high school graduation and spent her first year of college learning online.

It’s the same experience for so many young people in mid-Michigan, feeling like they’re losing out.

But, Christina Zerka isn’t pouting. The now-19-year-old sophomore at the University of Michigan Flint, is taking action to “Save Summer 2021.”

A few months ago as COVID-19 vaccines became accessible to the public, she didn’t hesitate to sign up.

But, Zerka quickly realized not all of her peers were on her same page.

The culprit, she said, is misinformation. So Zerka’s been working to counter that. State leaders say her efforts are helping protect communities across our state.

“I respect everyone’s opinion, I really do,” Zerka said. “I don’t think that vaccines should be mandated, I do think people should look into the science and then want to take it on their own.”

The facts -- that’s what Christina Zerka is pushing.

Through her ‘Save Summer 2021’ nonprofit, the 19-year-old is infiltrating social media, debunking myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and backing it up with reputable sources.

She knew her effort was necessary after taking a poll on Instagram. Within her circle of friends, 44-percent of the 400 responses said ‘NO’ to the vaccine.

“I didn’t expect this,” Zerka shared. “And I realized that it’s become politicized, which I really dislike; because science is not one side or the other side, science is science, it’s unrelated to politics in general.”

With the help of her mentor, Zerka partnered with friends at other universities, only expanding their reach across the state.

She has Congressman Dan Kildee’s support. And, the Governor’s Office is grateful, saying she’s able to reach the generation that saw a high number of COVID cases throughout the pandemic.

“She falls right in within that demographic and that age bracket,” said Dion Williams, Director of Faith Based and Urban Affairs for Governor Whitmer’s Office. “So having her do this is phenomenal. We need to touch those millennials and that x generation, quote unquote, to make sure that they are involved.”

“The thing is, don’t let fear stop you,” Zerka said. “If you really have a passion for something and you’re helping people, just do it, and people will support you because you’re doing the right thing.”

Zerka told ABC12 she made up her mind to be a pre-med student prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Experiencing it has only encouraged her passion, but it’s also shifted her focus to public health.

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