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ESPN Reporter Allison Williams Leaves Network Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

·3 min read
allison williams
allison williams

Alika Jenner/Getty

Allison Williams, an ESPN reporter who has covered college football and basketball sidelines for the network for a decade, announced over the weekend that she is leaving the company due to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

On Saturday, Williams, 37, told her Instagram followers that her "request for accommodation" to not receive the vaccine had been denied by ESPN. In a video posted to her account, Williams said she will be "separated from the company" starting next week.

When reached for comment by PEOPLE, an ESPN spokesperson said, "We aren't going to comment on an individual."

The spokesperson added: "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."

Explaining her stance, Williams said she will not get the COVID-19 vaccine because she and her husband are trying to have a second child. She shared that she has "medical apprehensions regarding my desire to have another child in regards to receiving this injection."

RELATED: Lawmaker Who Couldn't Fly Because She Wouldn't Wear a Mask Now Has COVID

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or may become pregnant.

According to the agency, "Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing," and "there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men."

Williams told her followers, "I am 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 went on to say that the Walt Disney Company — which owns ESPN — told employees the vaccine was optional this spring, but later mandated all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. Williams said she understands that ESPN's values had "clearly changed" since the company sent out their message about the vaccine being a "personal decision." She added, "I don't know what it's like to run a multibillion dollar company and to have... societal and political pressures. I respect that their values have changed."

While she respects ESPN's decision, Williams said she had hoped "they would respect" that her stance on the vaccine had not changed. "I cannot put a paycheck over principle. I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career."

allison williams espn
allison williams espn

allison williams/ instagram

RELATED: Kyrie Irving Speaks Out on Vax Stance After Brooklyn Nets Announce He Won't Play: 'I'm Still Uncertain'

The Walt Disney Company announced in July that it would require all salaried and non-union hourly employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, giving on-site workers 60 days to get vaccinated.

Williams told her Twitter followers in September she had decided against getting the COVID-19 vaccine because it was not in her "best interest" as she and her husband tried for their second child. After having conversations with her doctor and fertility specialist, Williams said, "I have decided to put my family and personal health first."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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