ESPN reporter leaving company over vaccine requirements

An ESPN reporter who said she would not take a coronavirus vaccine despite a policy requiring her to do so says she has left the company. 

Reporter Allison Williams, who a week ago announced she would step down from her duties covering college football for the network, said in an Instagram Live post that she had decided to leave ESPN. 

"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 the sports media website 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."

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Last Thursday, Williams said she had made the decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine because she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child. There is no evidence to suggest the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to fertility issues.

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

Asked about Williams' departure, an ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on any individual case. 

"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," they said in an emailed statement. 

In May, ESPN announced that all of its 5,500 employees who travel to events would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Aug. 1. The company said several of the host venues that its reporters, anchors and other staff travel to to cover games were requiring the company's workers to be vaccinated. 

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Williams said in her Instagram Live video, posted Friday, that her request to be exempted from the company's policy was denied. 

"I don’t know what the future holds, obviously, for any of us," she said. "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. 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."