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ESPN Reporter Leaving Company Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

AP Photo/David Kohl, File

ESPN college football sideline reporter Allison Williams announced that she is leaving the company over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, emphasizing that she was not going to "put a paycheck over principle."

Williams said last month that she would not be reporting during the 2021 college football season because of the vaccine mandate. She elected not to get vaccinated after receiving guidance from her doctor and a fertility specialist because she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child.

She said in an Instagram video Friday that her "request for accommodation" was denied.

"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, according to Awful Announcing. "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 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," she continued.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidance late last month encouraging vaccinations for those who are pregnant, recently became pregnant, breastfeeding, 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," the CDC wrote. 

Williams said in her Instagram video Friday that she is unsure what her future holds following her departure from ESPN, where she had worked for the past decade.

"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."

In May, ESPN announced that employees who travel to events must be vaccinated by Aug. 1. The company also said that a number of host venues for sporting events were requiring that the company's staff be vaccinated.

Walt Disney, ESPN’s parent company, announced on July 30 that all on-site salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. were required to be fully vaccinated within 60 days.

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