ESPN reporter Allison Williams leaving network due to vaccine mandate – USA TODAY

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Veteran reporter Allison Williams has decided to leave ESPN rather than comply with the network’s mandate that all employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Williams announced last month that for the first time in 15 years, she would not be on the sidelines during ESPN’s college football broadcasts because she had declined the vaccine. (The network made vaccinations mandatory for staffers at live events at the beginning of August, then expanded it to all employees this month.)

Then on Friday, she posted a five-minute video on Instagram to explain her decision, saying she is “so morally and ethically not aligned with this” as she and her husband are looking to have another child.

Williams cited anecdotal evidence of women having health issues after getting the vaccine as one of the reasons she is choosing not to follow the company mandate.

However, the Centers for Disease Control has said there is currently no evidence the COVID vaccines cause fertility problems in women and men, and that “the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.”

In a statement emailed to USA TODAY Sports, ESPN declined to comment on Williams’ specific situation.

“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,” the statement said. “Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.” 

Williams said it was hard for her to come to grips with the fact that her last game on ESPN – last season’s national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State – would be her last.

“Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle,” she said. “And I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career.”