CDC head warns against surging COVID vaccines to Michigan, says shutdown needed

A top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says surging vaccines to Michigan would not help the hard-hit state control the latest COVID-19 wave that has strained its hospitals and is raising concerns nationwide because vaccines take two to six weeks to confer protection.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House coronavirus briefing Monday that the answer in a crisis situation such as Michigan is facing is to go back to virus control basics.

"Really what we need to do in those situations is shut things down," Walensky said. "I think if we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have an impact."

Related: Do I need to quarantine after I am vaccinated? -- Answer to this and more COVID-19 vaccine questions

Walensky explained that at the same time, diverting vaccines away from other states where the situation isn’t as dire right now could unwittingly seed the ground for future outbreaks elsewhere.

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for the federal government to surge vaccines to her state, but the White House said last week Michigan had not ordered its full allotment of available vaccines. Federal officials say the current population-based formula is still the fairest way to distribute vaccines to states. Whitmer has shied away from ordering new lockdowns and has issued statements over the past four days reiterating that residents need to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Related: Why are vaccinated people still getting COVID-19?

On Friday, Whitmer asked for high schools to go virtual, pause youth sports, and for residents to not dine inside restaurants.

"It's a behavior change. We need everyone to be a part of that," said Whitmer.

The governor said the state has the right tools and orders already in place and said that new orders weren't necessary.

"Policy change alone won't change the tide. We need everyone to take personal responsibility here," she said.

Related:  Deaths climb, cases spike as state works to vaccinate more people