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Vaccines on the Way, Texas Officials Prioritize Allocation

- Messaging for Nationwide Effort Under Development

A team of Texas health officials has started weighing how to prioritize recipients for the COVID-19 vaccines that have begun arriving in the state. Once the FDA grants them emergency use authorization, inoculations will begin before the end of the year and likely continue through early spring. Where broadcasters will fall in the order is unclear, but TAB has weighed in on behalf of our industry’s front-line workers.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) last week issued a set of guiding principles that outlines their approach. They clearly designate health care workers as first in line, providing definitions for three different tiers of that group.

With vaccines still scarce and likely to be for a few months, industry groups outside of healthcare and already employing substantial numbers of designated “essential workers” are prioritizing their own employees for inoculation.

That includes local broadcasters which are designated as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers by FEMA’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Broadcast transmission facilities are designated by state law as critical infrastructure, and the industry serves as the backbone of the country’s emergency communications system.

Broadcasters’ front-line workers are at greater risk of contracting the virus as a result of their work providing critical, life-saving information to the general public in communities large and small across the state.

The group includes field reporters and photographers, master control operation technicians, and broadcast transmission and studio engineers.

TAB will alert stations once the DSHS panel finalizes its priorities.

NAB, Reynolds Institute Team Up on Messaging
As the nation prepares for the historic vaccination effort, NAB and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute announced last week a nationwide research project to identify effective education messaging.

The findings will be used to develop tools and resources for local Radio and Television broadcasters and other journalists to craft public health messages and educational programing.

Consulting firm SmithGeiger will survey Americans nationwide as part of the effort to produce a “toolkit” for local broadcasters that provides messaging guidance focused on a local and regional approach, rather than relying solely on a national message.

The toolkit is anticipated to be available in early 2021.

State Campaign Anticipated
TAB anticipates the state will undertake a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to advance vaccinations in the Lone Star State, but no details are yet available. DSHS is the state agency most likely to carry out such a campaign.   

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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