The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) want its members considered for Covid-19 vaccination alongside front-line workers.
KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor says it is unfortunate that the scheduled Covid-19 vaccine roll out in the country is expected to proceed with the exclusion of members of the Fourth Estate as primary beneficiaries.
“KUJ demands that journalists should be included in the list of front-line workers who are scheduled to get the first jab when the vaccine lands in the country this week,” said KUJ SG Eric Oduor.
KUJ has also appealed to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to recognize the media as an integral institution in the national campaign to fight Covid-19 and accord journalists who are willing to take the jab the opportunity to do so.
“It beats logic to classify journalists as front-line workers only when their services are needed to contribute to the national campaign in informing and educating the public and to abandon them when their colleagues are being protected,” said Oduor.
“This gives credence to the fact that journalists are only important when their selfless services are needed at the time of crises but are on their own when it comes to the protection of their rights and welfare,” he added.
He said that the move to exclude journalists from the list of “vulnerable and/or front-line workers” not only exposed them to infection but risks turning them into super-spreaders of Covid-19, considering that the nature of their duties require them to travel and mingle widely with news sources.
Last year, when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Covid-19 guidelines, including lockdown measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, journalists were classified as essential service providers alongside front-line workers.
He said that the pronouncement to classify journalists as front-line workers enabled journalists to carry out their mandate diligently and safely in the face of threats posed by the pandemic.