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Reporter Allison Williams is leaving ESPN over vaccine mandate

Allison Williams, sideline reporter with ESPN poses for a photo on the field at AT&T Stadium before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game between Notre Dame and Alabama in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

▶ Watch Video: NBA facing COVID-19 vaccination challenges ahead of 2021-22 season

ESPN reporter Allison Williams said she is leaving the sports channel after her decision not to get vaccinated. Williams, who covers college and basketball games, told followers in an Instagram video that ESPN and parent company, Walt Disney, denied her “request for accommodation,” days before the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate takes effect.

“Effective next week, I will be separated from the company,” said Williams, who has been with ESPN since 2011.

“I’m morally and ethically not aligned by this,” she added. “And I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values, my morals and ultimately, I need to put them first… Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle.”

An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the specific status of Williams.

“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,” an ESPN spokesperson said. “Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.”

Williams explained in a tweet last month that she was stepping away from her role and didn’t want to get vaccinated because she and her husband were trying for a second child.

“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly,” she said. “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.”

The CDC said in early October it “strongly recommends” the COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy. The alert follows the agency’s move over the summer to bolster its recommendation that people who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant get vaccinated against COVID-19, citing a growing amount of evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the shots to protect vulnerable parents and their newborns.

The topic of sports figures and vaccine mandates has also been a focus in recent weeks. With the start of the NBA season approaching, players such as Kyrie Irving have been vocal about not getting the vaccine, despite local mandates that would prevent unvaccinated athletes from playing.


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