President Joe Biden sparked immediate backlash this week with the announcement of a requirement for employees of businesses with 100 or more workers to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.
Although that federal mandate has not been officially enforced, many companies are already applying pressure on employees to get vaccinated. For her part, ESPN reporter Allison Williams has announced that she will sit out this year because of her decision not to take the shot, The Hill reports.
“The most important role I have”
Williams has typically provided sideline coverage for the network’s college football and basketball broadcasts.
As for her hesitancy to get the vaccine, she pointed to an ongoing effort to conceive a second child with her husband.
“This will be the first fall in the last 15 years I won’t be on the sidelines for College Football. My heart hurts posting this but I’m at peace with my decision,” she tweeted on Thursday.
She included a more detailed message with the tweet in which she elaborated on the situation and the decision she felt compelled to make.
“While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother,” Williams wrote. “Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child.”
“A lot of prayer and deliberation”
Williams described it as “a deeply difficult decision to make” and acknowledged that “vaccines have been essential in the effort to end this pandemic.”
Nevertheless, she credited “a lot of prayer and deliberation” to arriving at the decision that getting the vaccine would not be in her “best interest.”
Williams expressed gratitude for the support of the “ESPN family” and an intention to returning to her on-camera duties in the future.
ESPN reportedly informed all of its employees in May that those who travel to cover games, e.g. sideline reporters, would need to be vaccinated by August. Parent company Walt Disney expanded its vaccine requirement to all employees no later than the end of September.
Although ESPN declined to comment on Williams specifically, a spokesperson said that the network would be “going through a thorough review of accommodation request on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodations where warranted” and maintained that its “focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.”