ATLANTA - With the US giving out more than 3 million shots a day, and reporting a 4.6 million vaccinations Saturday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is appealing for additional vaccine to help stem the tide of a huge surge in new infections in the state.
Michigan is averaging about 7,300 new cases a day.
But, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says sending more vaccine is not the answer because it takes weeks for the vaccines to become effective once their given.
A person is not considered fully vaccinated until they are two weeks out from their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"So, when you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases, like we have in Michigan, the answer isn't necessarily to give vaccines," Dr. Walensky says. "In fact, we know that the vaccines will have a delayed response. The answer to that is to really close things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another."
Governor Whitmer is asking Michigan high schools to shut down in-person classes and youth sports programs to suspend their activities for two weeks.
She is also urging people to avoid indoor dining at restaurants for the next two weeks.
The surge in cases in the Upper Midwest, Northeast and several other states is thought to be driven by new, much more contagious strains of the coronavirus, like the B. 1.1.7. or UK variant.
The CDC says the B. 1.1.7. variant is now the dominant strain in the US and is at least 50% more transmissible that previously circulating strains.
The Biden Administration says it is sending a CDC response team to Michigan to help state health officials with contact tracing and outbreak investigations.
It will also send additional COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing supplies, FEMA vaccinators and monoclonal antibody treatments to the state.
But, health officials say Michigan will not receive additional vaccine.
"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 that impact," Dr. Walensky says. "Similarly, we need that vaccine in other places."
White House Senior COVID-19 Advisor Andy Slavitt says the same variants fueling the outbreaks in Michigan are also present in other states.
"So, our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states, rather than taking vaccine and shifting it, to play whack-a-mole, isn't the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out," Slavitt says. "There are other things we can do."
One suggestion, he says, would be to "rebalance" the vaccine Michigan is receiving, moving it from areas within the state that have excess vaccine to areas that need additional doses.
This story is being reported out of Atlanta
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