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Should reporters be given priority when California distributes the COVID-19 vaccine?

Newspaper reporters are one of several groups asking the state to declare them “essential,” which would put them in line just behind high-priority groups like health workers and nursing home residents.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association submitted the request to the state’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee, which is holding a meeting on Wednesday to address the sensitive issue.

“Those who gather the news, and those responsible for publishing and printing the news, should be vaccinated as soon as possible with other essential workers to ensure that Californians can continue to have the news delivered to their doorstep,” wrote Brittney Barsotti, the staff attorney and legislative advocate at CNPA.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that the state expects to have 2,160,000 doses in hand by the end of the year, which would be enough to vaccinate 1 million people.

The highest priority will go to health care workers, long-term care workers and residents and emergency medical personnel. But in the subsequent round, called Phase 1b, the state expects to make the vaccine available to other categories of “essential” workers.

On Wednesday, the state advisory committee released written public comments on the issue. Among those seeking high priority were advocates for farm workers, police officers, airline pilots, scout leaders, school bus drivers, the meat and poultry industry, public utilities, medical device manufacturers and public defenders.

The state previously declared entertainment industry workers to be among the “essential” workforce, which allows film and TV productions to continue while restaurants and other public facilities are shut down. But that does not mean that the entertainment industry will be given priority for vaccine distribution. No one from the entertainment industry submitted a comment to the advisory committee making such a request.

The state expects an initial order of 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to begin to arrive next week. Those doses will go to health facilities that will provide them to high-risk workers.