(WHNT) — A group of almost 7,000 Alabama doctors is calling on the federal government to accelerate its plan for COVID-19 booster shots.

The Alabama Medical Association (AMA) stressed the urgency of another COVID-19 shot for healthcare workers as cases across the nation, particularly in the “hard-hit Gulf Coast states,” begin to rise.

“Much of our health care workforce received their second vaccine dose in January,” said Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the state’s medical association. “We are asking the federal government to reconsider its plan and give Gulf Coast states those booster shots now rather than needlessly wait.”

On Wednesday, U.S. health officials announced their plan to provide booster shots against COVID-19 to provide an extra layer of protection against the virus.

The plan, detailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calls for the extra dose to come eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Data is still being studied for booster shots for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“These hard-hit states are most at risk for medical care staffing shortages, which we are already beginning to see,” Arora said. “Patients cannot afford to lose our health care workforce during this time of greatest need when even normal illnesses that cause medical staff to miss work will contribute to staff shortages.”

Currently, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people with weakened immune systems who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

The recommendation does not apply to the general public or recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.