University of Michigan-Flint student's message to peers: "Save Summer"

The following is a Flintside opinion piece by University of Michigan-Flint student Christina Zerka. Have an idea for an essay or opinion piece you'd like to write for Flintside about life in Flint? Email [email protected].

“I’m not taking it.” This was a close friend’s response in a discussion about taking one of the COVID-19 vaccines. My concern grew quickly and exponentially as more of my friends made similar remarks. 

I respect everyone’s opinion about vaccines, but these occurrences made me curious to how people in my network felt about taking them. I conducted an Instagram poll to see how many people would take the shot. The results had me shocked and extremely wary. Out of about 400 responses, 176 people didn’t intend to take it. That’s 44%. 

That is when I knew that people’s resistance and misinformation about the vaccines is a widespread problem that needs to be addressed. 

I thought that people would be celebrating this miracle and the advancement of modern day medicine. Technological and scientific advancements are to thank for this great achievement. It is a breakthrough in science, so it really frustrated me when individuals were doubting it’s safety. 

I talked about my concerns that people my age weren’t going to take the vaccine to Dr. Michael Witt, the Entrepreneurs Society’s advisor at the University of Michigan-Flint. I had a vision to produce a video to change people’s hesitancy about the vaccines and their safety.

He mentioned that it was a “great idea” and assisted  me in bringing the project to life. 

At first, Save Summer 2021 was just going to be a video to promote vaccinations. It has now developed into a much wider campaign. 

There is an official website with facts about the vaccines straight from the CDC’s website, John Hopkins University, and other trusted sources. Furthermore, there is a “thank you” page that acknowledges and thanks those who have been spreading the message about Save Summer 2021. Many of the supporters include influencers, businesses, and other organizations. 

Detroit Girl Squad, Dama Detroit, and  Women We Love Wednesday are a few of those currently sharing the message about Save Summer. 

Additionally, the Genesee County Health Department has shared the video and campaign to their social media platforms in addition to embedding the video onto their website. 

Save Summer has reached and is in cooperation with the Project Michigan Commission’s Youth Advisory Workgroup & the Colleges and Universities Advisory Workgroup. 

The newest addition to the campaign is it’s ambassadors, who are actively helping with the campaign’s  promotion. These individuals are doing this without any payment, because they are just passionate about the cause. 

The campaign’s main aim is through social media. On Instagram (@savesummer21), there are weekly posts about vaccine facts. “Shoot Your Shot Challenge” is taking place on the platform as well, encouraging  everyone to make a video stating why they want to take the vaccine and why they feel safe taking it. At the end of the video, you nominate two friends to the challenge. The hope is for people to share the campaign with their friends through social media. 

At the end of the day, if this campaign changes even just a few people’s minds, that will be better than doing nothing about the problem. It strongly bothers me that people think that the vaccines are unsafe and not listening to doctors who are experts in their field and are also taking the vaccines themselves. We don’t tell engineers how to build a bridge and do not question their safety because they are experts in their field. I believe that the same mindset should be applied here. Doctors and epidemiologists spend their entire lives dedicating their studies to science and facts. They know much more than we do about the safety of the vaccines. 

The entire world has turned upside down by this pandemic. There is not a single person that it has not affected. Now that we finally have a solution, we should be all working together to get back to having our normal lives. 

I hope that you will get vaccinated, and  join in spreading scientific facts about vaccines and their safety. 

We can do it, we can have our lives back by Summer 2021. Let’s do it, Save Summer 2021.
The idea of not having to wear a mask when we have 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated should be an appealing thought. In-person classes, a reboot of the economy, concerts, international travel, in-person conferences, and most importantly, reduced illness and death from the virus -- we can have all of that back.

I encourage each person to research the vaccines and their safety from scientific sources. Please do not just listen to opinions over the facts. The vaccines are not affiliated with a political party. Science itself is not affiliated with a political party, and never should be. 

Save Summer 2021 has bipartisan support, which truly does let me have hope for the future of our country. 

Find more information about Save Summer 2021 on their website, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or TikTok.     

Read more articles by Christina Zerka.

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