Unemployment over vaccination? These public figures paid a hefty price for their decisions.

·6 min read

Almost two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many employers and businesses are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. But what happens to those who refuse?

Some have been fired or benched. Others quit. Those who did include well-known football coaches, Broadway stars and news reporters.

As of today, 66% of Americans are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the country's top infectious disease experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say the best way to protect Americans from the virus is by getting vaccinated.

Here's a breakdown of some of the public figures who left their jobs or were fired after deciding not to get a company-mandated vaccination.

Allison Williams, ESPN reporter

After reporting with ESPN for 15 years, Williams announced she would part ways with the network because she had declined the vaccine. Williams reported during ESPN'S college football broadcasts, and the network made vaccinations mandatory for staffers at live events at the beginning of August. It is now required for all staffers.

Williams posted on Instagram and said she is "so morally and ethically not aligned with this" as she and her husband are looking to have another child.

"Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle," Williams said on Instagram. "And I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career."

CDC analysis: COVID-19 vaccines don't increase risk of miscarriages in pregnant people

Bob Boone, Washington Nationals VP

Washington Nationals Vice President Bob Boone informed the club he’s resigning rather than comply with the organization’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Boone, 73, has been with Washington since 2004 and moved into his role as VP and senior adviser to general manager Mike Rizzo after the 2015 season. He was assistant GM and vice president of player development from 2006-2013.

The Nationals said employees were notified of the policy on Aug. 12 and had until Aug. 26 to provide proof of full vaccination or one dose or apply for an exemption.

“As a company, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep one another safe and felt that mandating vaccines was the absolute right thing to do for our employees and our community,” the team said in a statement released a week prior to Boone's resignation.

Cole Popovich, Patriots assistant coach

Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich won’t be with the Patriots this season due to the NFL’s guidelines related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The NFL requires all Tier-1 employees to be vaccinated against the virus, which includes coaches, front office executives, equipment managers and scouts. Popovich, 36, joined the Patriots as a coaching assistant in 2016.

Patriots long snapper and Navy lieutenant Joe Cardona issued a statement to Pro Football Focus about the NFL’s memo on COVID protocols.

“The NFL has taken a firm stance that will have massive implications to individual players. Ensuring every single player in the league is afforded the opportunity to earn every paycheck for which they are eligible is extremely important. As athletes, our time horizon for earning income is already volatile enough with factors we can control, let alone this new policy,” said Cardona.

Gray Television employees

An 18-year employee, Meggan Gray left her co-hosting role on WLOX-TV's "Good Morning Mississippi" because she denied getting vaccinated.

"I may have lost my job, but I preserved my integrity," Gray added in her Facebook post. "I tried everything possible to keep my job, including offering to be tested on a weekly basis. My requests were denied."

Linda Simmons, a reporter in Springfield, Missouri, who was with the company for 14 years, as well as Karl Bohnak, a meteorologist in Marquette, Michigan, were also fired after refusing the vaccination mandate.

"I value the freedom we all have to make our own informed decisions," Simmons said on Facebook. "I will miss you all, and I am sad to be leaving this way, but I have confidence that I am doing God’s will for me. I trust that He has good plans in store."

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets guard

Though he's not lost his job, he could start losing pay. Irving has been barred from the Brooklyn Nets games and practices until he gets vaccinated. If he continues to refuse, he could forfeit nearly $400,000 in salary for each game he misses.

On Instagram Live, Irving confirmed he hasn't received the COVID-19 vaccine and added “nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies.”

New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate requires players to be vaccinated in order to play at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center, the Nets' home arena. Nets general manager Sean Marks said he had "no choice" but to keep Irving away from the team due to the mandate.

"This is my life," Irving said. "I get to do whatever I want with this, this is one body that I get here. And you are telling me what to do with my body."

Laura Osnes, Broadway actress

Osnes has starred in numerous Broadway productions, including "Cinderella," and was set to star in a one-night preview of "Crazy for You" at Guild Hall in East Hampton of Long Island, NBC News reported.

But in August, Osnes said she withdrew from the one-night concert since all theaters were requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a now-deleted Instagram post, Osnes said she was not offered a chance to get regularly tested for coronavirus instead.

"I believe individuals have the right to do the research, consult a doctor and come to their own conclusions before deciding whether or not to get any injection," Osnes wrote.

Nick Rolovich, Washington State football coach

Rolovich, 42, was fired after less than two years with Washington State after refusing to meet the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Rolovich and other state employees all faced a deadline Monday to save their jobs — either be fully vaccinated or obtain approval for an exemption

Rolovich made a plea for religious exemption but did not elaborate on his religious reasons for not being vaccinated. Rolovich attended a Catholic school and his family comes from a Catholic background, yet he declined to publicly confirm whether he identifies as Catholic.

Rolovich was not the only coach who refused the mandate; defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, assistant head coach John Richardson, co-offensive coordinator Craig Stutzmann and offensive line coach Mark Weber were also fired.

"To be at this juncture today is unacceptable on so many levels and is antithetical to the WSU experience our student-athletes so richly deserve," WSU athletics director Pat Chun said in a statement.

Rick Dennison, Vikings coordinator

Dennison, the club's offensive line coach and run game coordinator parted ways with the team after refusing the vaccine mandate.

The 63-year-old joined the Vikings in 2019 and earned three Super Bowl wins in his career. In his absence, the Vikings promoted assistant O-line coach Phil Rauscher and hired Auburn special teams analyst Ben Steele as an assistant.

Rodrik David, Atlanta Falcons scout

The Atlanta Falcons fired a scout over his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine. David had worked with the team for four years, hired as a scouting assistant in 2017 and then promoted to pro scout with a focus on the Midwest.

The Falcons announced starting In August 2021, all regular full and part-time associates must be vaccinated in order "to maintain a safe working environment for all associates." The policy went into effect in October.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nick Rolovich and others unemployed after refusing COVID vaccine

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