Sideline reporter Allison Williams will quit ESPN rather than follow parent company Disney’s vaccine mandates after being advised by her doctor not to take the shot.
“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly,” Williams said in a statement. “I understand vaccines have been essential to the effort to end this pandemic; however, taking the vaccine at this time is not in my best interest.”
“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.”
While there’s no evidence any COVID vaccine reduces fertility, former Pfizer executive and scientist Michael Yeadon reminded people that “We never, ever give experimental medicines to pregnant women.”
COVID itself can be a risk to pregnant women and their babies, but the vaccines haven’t been around long enough to say anything conclusive about their risks. It would seem prudent for a woman and her doctor to assess as best they’re able what’s right in each individual case.
In Williams’ case, things are a bit more complicated.
At 37 years old, the college football reporter is what physicians call of “advanced maternal age.” Expecting mothers 35 years or older are at increased risk of giving premature birth, miscarriage, or delivering a baby with birth defects.
I know a little something about this, having once spent nine months on pins and needles.
The VodkaWife™ was (just barely) of advanced maternal age when we started trying to have our second child. Although she had the same doctor for both pregnancies, Melissa’s OB-GYN kept a much closer eye on her and the baby the second time around. Rather than let her go even one day past her due date, they even induced labor just to make sure there would be no extra, unneeded risks.
Our first child — much to my lovely bride’s impatient chagrin — was born two days late and no one (except Melissa) blinked an eye.
But docs don’t mess around when it comes to “older” women getting pregnant and delivering.
I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. While I didn’t hesitate to get myself vaccinated (in large part because I didn’t want to risk losing my sense of taste for cocktails and steak), there’s no way I’d have let my 36-year-old pregnant wife take an experimental vaccine.
That hardly seems outrageous, does it?
Nevertheless, Williams said on Instagram on Friday that her “request for accommodation” had been denied by Disney.
“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,” she said.
All these mandate-related firings and resignations might eventually be the best thing for everyone involved — except for mandate-happy companies like Disney.
A company is only as good as its people, and if it succeeds in driving away even a fraction of its free-thinkers and those who stand by their principles in trying times, it’s the company that will suffer in the long run.
ESPN is clearly poorer for having lost Allison Williams.