After Odisha, UP and Tamil Nadu declare journalists as frontline workers

Hundreds of journalists have lost their lives in the pandemic.

New Delhi: After Odisha, now Uttar Pradesh has declared journalists as frontline workers to be given priority in the ongoing vaccination drive and also directed authorities to allot separate centres for them where they can be inoculated.

The new government formed in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal has also classified journalists as frontline workers, a day after emerging victorious in the Assembly elections. 

“All journalists working in newspapers and the visual media risk their lives and their work will be considered as frontline workers in Tamil Nadu,” said Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin on Tuesday.

The devastating second wave of Covid2019 has taken a severe toll on news mediapersons, many of whom have been reporting from the ground. According to the Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies, more than 100 journalists have died since 1 April 2020. Over 52 scribes from various parts of the country lost their lives in April alone.

The decision comes amid several appeals by the Editors Guild of India (EGI) to the central government to give journalists priority in vaccination along with frontline workers. While several states, including Uttrakhand, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab have already declared journalists as frontline workers, the Centre has not yet made any provision in this regard.

“Despite the support from various state governments and media organisations, the central government has not responded to this request. Now, even though vaccination has been technically opened for all above 18 years of age, there is an acute shortage of vaccines. Therefore, the Guild’s urgent demand that journalists be given priority along with other frontline workers," said the Guild in a recent statement, while condoling the death of mediapersons.

Welcoming the UP government’s decision on Tuesday, News Broadcasters Association president Rajat Sharma said UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed his officials to open special vaccination centres exclusively for media personnel.

Sharma had earlier written a letter to the UP CM to make the vaccines available to all media personnel and their family members on priority. “Noida has emerged as a big centre for national electronic media, and most of the TV journalists and camerapersons work and live here. In most of the cases, TV reporters and camera persons have to work in the midst of crowds, and meet Covid2019 patients, doctors and health care workers in hospitals. Hence, the need for vaccinating them and their family members on priority,” wrote the senior journalist.

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