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

"I cannot put a paycheck over principle"

Sideline reporter Allison Williams wearing a face mask during the College Football Playoff Semifinal in 2021
Sideline reporter Allison Williams during the College Football Playoff Semifinals in 2021.
Alika Jenner/Getty

Longtime ESPN college football and basketball sideline reporter Allison Williams is departing the network because of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate, she announced via Instagram.

Williams, who joined the network in 2011, said that her request for accommodation from ESPN and The Walt Disney Company had been denied and that she will be leaving the network this week. The 37-year-old reporter is trying to have her second child and claims her doctor advised her not to be vaccinated while attempting to get pregnant. Disney’s vaccine mandate is set to go into effect on Friday.

“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 and I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals and ultimately I need to put them first,” Williams said in a video posted to her Instagram account. “The irony in all this is that a lot of those same values and principles I hold so dear are what made me a really good employee and probably helped with the success that I’ve been able to have in my career.”

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that shows any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems.

 “I cannot put a paycheck over principle. I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career,” Williams said, going on to address the notion that it is her “moral obligation” to receive the vaccine.

“I weighed that and I thought about implications,” Williams said. “We all want to be good neighbors. We all want to end this pandemic. But ultimately, an injection that does not stop transmission and spread, for me, did not weigh in morally.”

Contrary to Williams’ unsubstantiated opinions, COVID-19 vaccines do lower transmission and spread, hospitalizations and deaths are currently mostly among unvaccinated people, and while more studies are needed to assess the transmission risk of breakthrough infections, it seems it’s not as big of a concern as originally thought.

A Michigan native who graduated from the University of Miami in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Williams was a regular during ESPN’s Saturday coverage of college football and often worked alongside commentator Bob Wischusen and analyst Dan Orlovsky. Williams previously worked for Fox Sports Florida.

“We aren’t going to comment on an individual,” ESPN told Newsweek of Williams. “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.”

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