ESPN college football sideline reporter Allison Williams said Friday night she is leaving the company over a coronavirus vaccine mandate issued for all Disney employees.
Williams said last month she was advised by her doctor to forgo getting the coronavirus vaccine because she was trying to get pregnant. She said the decision to skip the vaccine sidelined her from working college football games. She said in an Instagram video on Friday her “request for accommodation” was denied.
Essentially, Williams said it came down to a moral dilemma for her.
“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. And I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and ultimately I need to put them first,” she said, via Awful Announcing.
“And the irony in all this is that a lot of these same values and morals that I hold dear are what made me a really good employee, what helped with the success that I’m able to have in my career.”
Additionally, Williams said she wasn’t going to “put a paycheck over principle.”
“I don’t know what the future holds, obviously, for any of us. I’m trying to wrap my head around the thought that the largest game I’ve worked in my career, the national championship game, might be the last game I work. But I’m going to focus on what I have to be thankful for,” she said.
“I’m going to hold on to 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. Until then, God bless, and I’m going to go hug my baby.”
Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
The CDC wrote late last month to urge increased COVID-19 vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant, who are trying to become pregnant or who might become pregnant in the future.
“The CDC health advisory strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination for both pregnant persons and their fetus or infant outweigh known or potential risks. Additionally, the advisory calls on health departments and clinicians to educate pregnant people on the benefits of vaccination and the safety of recommended vaccines,” the CDC said, noting that vaccination rates vary markedly by race and ethnicity with coverage highest among Asian people who are pregnant.
Williams made the announcement she was not working college football games this season last month.
“While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother. Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child,” she said in a statement.
“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly. I understand vaccines have been essential to 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. I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family. I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love.”
Disney, which is the parent company of ESPN, said in August it would be requiring the vaccine and the mandate includes those who work for the sports entertainment company outlet, according to the Bristol Press.
Williams joined ESPN in March 2011. She previously worked for Fox Sports Florida covering the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.