ESPN reporter steps down over vaccine requirements

ESPN reporter Allison Williams said she will be stepping down for the college football season after she decided to not receive the coronavirus vaccine.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, Williams said she decided to not get the COVID-19 vaccine while she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child.

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

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Williams added further that after much prayer, “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,” she continued.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or might become pregnant in the future receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence to suggest the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to fertility issues.

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ESPN notified its 5,500 employees who travel to events in May that they had to be vaccinated by Aug. 1. At the time, ESPN said a number of hosts for sporting events were requiring the company's workers to be vaccinated.  

Walt Disney, ESPN’s parent company, subsequently said in late July that all employees had to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The deadline for that policy is Sept. 30. 

ESPN didn't directly comment on Williams when reached by The Hill, but said it was "going through a thorough review" of accommodation requests." 

"We aren’t going to comment on an individual.  We are going through a thorough review of accommodation requests on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodations where warranted.  Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone," an ESPN spokesperson said. 

Williams, who does sideline reporting for college football and college basketball, did not cover a game during week one of the college football season, Yahoo Sports reported.

Earlier on Thursday, Williams addressed those who noticed her absence in an Instagram story, saying the past few months have been “one of the most difficult days of my life as I grapple with decisions I never thought would have to make.”

The announcement comes as companies race to get employees vaccinated amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

President Biden announced Thursday that employers with at least 100 employees must mandate vaccination or weekly testing for workers. The requirement could impact nearly 80 million workers. 

Updated at 11:30 a.m.