ESPN reporter Allison Williams is leaving the network over her decision not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Williams said Friday on Instagram.
Disney, ESPN’s parent company, has implemented a coronavirus mandate for all employees that will go into effect Thursday. Williams said last month that she was unvaccinated and planned to remain that way while she and her husband were trying to have a second child.
Williams said in a video that she was denied a “request for accommodation” from ESPN, and that she will be “separated” from the company next week.
"Belief is a word I've been thinking about a lot lately, because in addition to the medical apprehensions regarding my desire to have another child in regards to receiving this injection, I am also so morally and ethically not aligned with this," Williams said. "And I've had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and ultimately I need to put them first.
“And the irony in all this is that a lot of those same values and principals I hold dear are what made me a really good employee and probably helped with the success that I’ve been able to have in my career.”
Williams ‘separating’ with ESPN over COVID vaccine
Williams joined ESPN in March 2011, and has been part of both college football and basketball coverage.
She said in September that she would not be part of any college football game coverage this season because she was unvaccinated, and she and her husband were trying to have a second child.
“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it's not something I take lightly,” she said in September, in part. “I understand vaccines have been essential in the effort to end this pandemic, however taking the vaccine at this time is not in my best interest. After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first.”
The CDC has said that pregnant women can safely receive any of the three coronavirus vaccines available to Americans. An overwhelming majority of medical experts and health organizations have determined that the vaccine has no impact on fertility.
Williams is at least the second ESPN reporter to criticize Disney over the vaccine mandate. “SportsCenter” anchor Sage Steele apologized earlier this month after making controversial comments on Jay Cutler’s podcast regarding the mandate, former President Barack Obama and suggested that women are partly to blame when athletes make inappropriate comments in locker rooms.
“We aren’t going to comment on an individual," ESPN said in a statement. "We are going through a thorough review of accommodation requests on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodations consistent with our legal obligations. Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.”
Williams said she isn’t sure what’s next for her career, but that she’s hopeful to get back to a sideline again soon.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around the thought that the largest game I worked in my career, the national championship game, might be the last college football game I work,” she said. “But I’m going to focus on what I have to be thankful for. I'm going to hold onto my faith. I'm going to pray that things get better, and that I can see you on the television set in some capacity, in some stadium, covering some game soon.”