Karnataka declares journalists as frontline workers, priority for vaccines

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Uttarakhand are the other states that declared journalists as frontline workers.
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Karnataka becomes the latest state to declare journalists as frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, the journalists will be given priority in the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in India. “Our government has decided to consider journalists as frontline workers and accord priority in vaccination against COVID-19,” Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced on Tuesday. 

MK Stalin, the soon-to-be Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, also declared media persons at frontline workers, on Tuesday. Stating that journalists work irrespective of the weather and pandemic, Stalin said, “The media persons will receive the same entitlements and support that are being provided to frontline workers.”

West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Uttarakhand are the other states that declared journalists as frontline workers and will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine preference. This has been a major demand of the media fraternity ever since the vaccination drive began in India on January 16 this year, starting with health care workers and frontline workers.

Despite repeated requests, the Union government has maintained silence on this issue. In fact, at a campaign to create awareness on COVID-19 vaccines a few months ago, when journalists raised the same concern, the Karnataka Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Department remarked, “The Union government has not considered even teachers as frontline workers, let alone journalists.”

In every phase and threatening circumstances of the pandemic, the reporters, photographers and camerapersons have been at the forefront of bringing the ground reality — be it from hospitals, crematoriums, Intensive Care Units, railway stations, and even election campaigns where the leaders and public were violating all COVID-19 protocols. Many journalists have contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty and died.  The Institute of Perception Studies has estimated 139 deaths of journalists between April 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021.

In April, the Editors Guild of India, too, had asked the Union government to include journalists as frontline workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on a priority basis.

“News organisations have been relentlessly covering the pandemic, elections and other current affairs in an effort to ensure that the flow of news and information to readers continues unabated. News media is included in essential services. Therefore, it will only be fair that journalists be given this cover of protection, especially in the face of the number of infected rising to astronomical levels,” read the Editors Guild’s statement, which was supported by the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI).

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