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December 8, 2020

News Media Groups Request Front-line Journalists Be Included in Early Vaccine Deployment Phases

-- Organizations note risks of COVID-19 exposure during necessary news gathering --

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several news media organizations today sent a letter to the committee advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19 vaccine distribution requesting that journalists providing critical and essential functions in their communities be included in early phases of vaccine deployment. While highlighting the risk to journalists who are in the field reporting about health care workers and patients, meeting with people in essential businesses and covering rallies, protests and public events, the letter clearly specifies that the most at-risk populations should come first.

The news media organizations support prioritizing vaccines for front-line health care workers, first responders and others providing critical support, as well as the most at-risk populations. However, the letter urges the committee to consider the essential role of journalists and the risks they encounter as it develops subsequent phases of vaccine deployment.

In the letter to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the news media organizations highlight the essential role journalists have played during the pandemic as a lifeline of important health information. The letter also notes the role the media is certain to play during the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, including, “educating Americans about the importance of vaccination, as well as aiding in the monumental task of informing the public about the logistics of the vaccine’s dispersal around the country.”

The letter notes that, during the course of their work to provide the public with essential information, journalists are at risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

“To continue providing these critical services, however, journalists cannot simply work from home, but must interact with government officials and the public to report on the stories that matter, regardless of the risks they must assume,” reads the letter. “Despite efforts to protect themselves and the public, members of the media are necessarily exposed to the COVID-19 virus while doing their jobs and serving as ‘first informers’ in local communities across the country.”

Signing onto the letter are the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the News Media Alliance (NMA), the America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), the Asian Americans Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the National Newspaper Association (NNA), the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), the News Leaders Association (NLA), NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ).

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