Allison Williams leaving ESPN over COVID vaccine mandate

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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.

ESPN Sideline Reporter Allison Williams interviews Head Coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes after the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on November 2, 2019 in Tallahassee, Florida. Miami defeated Florida State 27 to 10.
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

ESPN side line reporter Allison Williams walks on the field during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at AT&T Stadium on January 01, 2021 in Arlington, Texas.
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

“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.

Dec 26, 2019; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Maurice Ffrench (2) smiles with Allison Williams after the game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Ford Field.
(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)

“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.

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