Mogadishu (Diplomat.so) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the news that like many other countries in Africa, Somalia will soon become a recipient of the COVID-19 vaccines and the first COVID-19 vaccination rollout is expected to begin immediately.
The union is calling on the Federal Government of Somalia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Somalia’s international partners to expedite the vaccination programme if Somalis are to stand any chance of winning the fight against this deadly pandemic ravaging the country and journalists as frontline workers must be considered as primary beneficiaries of the vaccination programme.
On 15 April 2020, the Federal Government of Somalia officially classified journalists as essential service providers and frontline workers. This announcement has enabled journalists and other media workers to carry out their mandate diligently in the face of the pandemic threat.
"We understand that the vaccine doses are limited and will initially be available to frontline workers, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. We take this early opportunity to remind the Federal Government that throughout the pandemic, journalists have been frontline workers who deserve to be on the priority list of people eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination first,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
"The nature of their job exposes journalists to a high risk of contracting COVID-19 since they must indiscriminately interact with members of the public. Like medical workers and members of the security forces, journalists must continue to be available in service of the public. Failure to protect them could lead to the collapse of an essential service, at a time when the public needs a lot of reassurance about the safety of the vaccine through information campaigns” added Osman.
At the very worst, not providing journalists early protection against COVID-19, could turn them into a pocket of super-spreaders which could undermine efforts to control the pandemic, the union warned.
NUSOJ demands that the Federal Government states in no uncertain terms its commitment to ensure that journalists will be among the first to receive the available vaccines and communicate a clear programme for vaccination.