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'After a lot of prayer and deliberation,' veteran ESPN reporter Allison Williams quits over company's vaccine mandate

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Veteran ESPN reporter Allison Williams said she won't be on the sidelines to cover college football this season because she refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This will be the first fall in the last 15 years I won't be on the sidelines for College Football," Williams tweeted Thursday.

Williams revealed that the reason she is hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine is because she is attempting to have a second child.

"While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother," she wrote on Twitter. "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."

"This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it's not something I take lightly," Williams continued. "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."

"After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first," she added.

"I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family," Williams concluded. "I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love."

Williams, who joined ESPN in 2011, said that the decision to walk away from her reporting job made her heart hurt, but she is "at peace" with her decision to go against the company's vaccine mandate.

ESPN said it would not "comment on an individual," but released a statement that read, "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."

The Walt Disney Company, which co-owns ESPN, announced in late July that it would require all salaried and non-union employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine within 60 days.

Disney's statement on the company's mandatory vaccinations:

At The Walt Disney Company, the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority. Toward that end, and based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated.

The company added, "Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for "people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future."

"Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing," the CDC states. "These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men."

However, some women have reported experiencing irregular or missing menstrual periods, including bleeding that is heavier than usual, after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

On Aug. 30, the National Institutes of Health announced it had paid $1.67 million to researchers from five institutions to study potential links between COVID-19 vaccinations and menstruation.

"Combined, the five NIH-funded studies – conducted by researchers at Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University and Oregon Health and Science University – will likely incorporate between 400,000 and 500,000 participants, including adolescents and transgender and nonbinary people, according to Diana Bianchi, director of the agency's Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is funding the research along with NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health," the Seattle Times reported.

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