Some of the nation's leading medical doctors and researchers are calling on the federal government to consider authorizing the use of COVID-19 booster shots.
Doctor Vincent Rajkumar, of the Mayo Clinic, which was named the number one hospital in the nation for the sixth year in a row, says he supports the idea of booster shots.
"I've really been on the side of wanting the CDC and FDA to evaluate the risk-benefits and make some strong recommendations," Rajkumar adds.
That would entail a third vaccine for the immunocompromised who got two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or a second dose for Johnson & Johnson recipients.
The CDC says the highly transmissible Delta variant now accounts for more than 80% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The virus is now surging in parts of the country where people are not vaccinated.
Doctor Rajkumar says experts face two challenges that need to be addressed separately. The first is vaccine hesitancy and the second is growing questions about whether the fully vaccinated need boosters.
Rajkumar acknowledges in some instances people who received the single dose J&J vaccine, "are suddenly concerned if the U.K. studies show only one dose is not sufficient."
He believes that there are some barriers preventing the CDC Advisory Committee and the CDC from issuing new booster recommendations. Rajkumar notes one major roadblock is that all three vaccines in the U.S. are only authorized for emergency use.
The Mayo Clinic doctor says federal officials are "hesitant to come out and recommend something that's not in the label."
However, concerns about having enough protection against the virus are pushing some people to find ways to get around limitations and access booster shots.
Doctor Rajkumar says "that puts people in a very difficult spot because they have to provide some wrong information to pharmacies in order to get that shot."
He thinks it would be better if doctors and healthcare providers were able to recommend boosters to patients, especially amid the rise in Delta cases.
The doctor says the CDC's recent shift on its masking recommendation is part of a larger revamp, and thinks the same should be done with vaccines.
While the U.S. doesn't have enough data on the safety of mixing COVID-19 vaccines, results out of countries like France, the U.K., and Germany, where deaths and infections have decreased as vaccinations have increased, is giving American health experts hope.
On Sunday, Israel will start offering a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 60 and older.
While doctors in the U.S. cannot recommend federally unapproved vaccines to patients, Doctor Rajkumar says in regards to safety, experts have enough information to "know the risk is probably low for an extra dose."
All residents 12 and older who are unvaccinated and are interested in getting vaccinated, can visit vaccine clinics across Riverside County. To schedule an appointment visit https://www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine.
Seniors who need assistance can dial 2-1-1. To register, you must show proof of age and employment at the time of your appointment. Residents under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them when arriving to their vaccine appointment.