As a news anchor at KGWN in Cheyenne, Wyo., Kerri Hayden said she tried to stay neutral in reporting about the coronavirus pandemic, including stories about mask and vaccine mandates. But when her station’s owner, Gray Television, required all employees to be vaccinated, Hayden was forced to pick a side.

“I wanted the decision to be my choice,” she said in an interview this week, “not a billion-dollar company’s.”

Hayden refused, citing personal objections, which promptly led Gray to fire her earlier this month from the station she’s worked at for the past quarter century. She thus became part of a small wave of TV journalists who have resigned or been dismissed in recent weeks over their opposition to vaccination requirements.

These journalists aren’t much different from other workers who have opposed employee vaccination mandates, whether in health care, law enforcement, education or any other field — except for one thing: They’re among the best-known people in their communities as a result of beaming into homes for years or even decades. Because of their high profiles, the fired journalists have captured local headlines and in some cases have become heroic figures to local vaccine resisters.

When Karl Bohnak, a meteorologist for Gray-owned WLUC in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was fired over his vaccination resistance last month, his departure became a small cause celebre. His Facebook post about the termination received thousands of comments — many supportive; many not — and was shared across right-wing blogs. Viewers threw him a party to celebrate his decision after 34 years on the air. Bohnak now calls himself an “activist” against mandatory employer vaccinations, which he calls a “violation of human rights.”

Most journalists have complied with vaccination requirements, but holdouts like Hayden and Bohnak demonstrate that there’s no uniformity of opinion or behavior among those who work in the news media.

Not all journalists seem to agree on the underlying medical facts, either. One of Bohnak’s objections to getting immunized was his concern about developing blood clots. Told that research shows that such side effects are extremely rare, he debated the point before concluding, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

Among national reporters, vaccine objectors include ESPN’s Allison Williams, who announced this week that she would leave the network rather than comply with a requirement by its owner, the Walt Disney Co. A college sports reporter, Williams said the vaccine wasn’t in her “best interest” at a time when she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s no evidence vaccines complicate fertility or pregnancy; the agency also says unvaccinated people are at higher risk of hospitalization and death, including those who become pregnant.)

Another ESPN employee, anchor Sage Steele, called the network’s vaccine policy “sick” and “scary” in a recent podcast interview. Although Steele said she got vaccinated, she complained in the same interview that she felt “defeated” by Disney’s policy of making it a condition of employment. She later apologized for creating “controversy for the company” but didn’t retract her characterization.

Most large media companies require their employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular tests. The Washington Post, for example, requires vaccinations among those in its newsroom; to date, none of its journalists has resigned or been fired for noncompliance, said Tracy Grant, an editor who has supervised newsroom compliance efforts. The New York Times requires vaccinations for all of U.S. employees who are returning to the office; a spokesperson, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said the policy hasn’t raised any concerns among staffers.

Fox News requires its employees to disclose their vaccination status to the company, and to submit to daily tests to work in company facilities if they are unvaccinated. Some of the network’s popular opinion hosts, including Tucker Carlson, have criticized government proposals for vaccination passports, but Carlson and others have not raised objections to Fox News’s policy.

The biggest concentration of vaccine resistance among journalists appears to be at Gray, an Atlanta-based company whose TV stations reach viewers in more than 100 cities. According to various news reports, the company has fired at least seven newsroom employees since its companywide vaccination requirement went into effect on Oct. 1. But the number may be higher than that; Bohnak said two journalists left his station in recent days over their opposition to the vaccine policy, but their departures didn’t attract public attention.

In a statement, Gray said it was “gratified that the vast majority” of its workforce “supports the policy” and has complied. “All of our employees and their families at home are safer when everyone in the workplace is fully vaccinated,” it said.

Gray wouldn’t specify how many people it has fired for noncompliance, but called it “a very small portion of our workforce,” which numbers more than 7,000 employees. A spokesman, Kevin Latek, offered no further comment, citing company policy regarding personnel matters.

In the meantime, the fired employees have blasted Gray on social media, turning its vaccination policy into a potential public relations issue for the company.

Meggan Gray, who had hosted “Good Morning Mississippi” for WLOX in Biloxi for 14 years, vented about her firing on Facebook after she declined to get vaccinated. “In my opinion, a forced decision to decide between a vaccination and the livelihood of an individual is a dangerous precedent,” she wrote.

Reporter Linda Simmons, who spent nearly 14 years at Gray-owned KYTV in Springfield, Mo., said she was confident she was “doing God’s will” by refusing to get vaccinated. “I value the freedom we all have to make our own informed decisions.” she told her 3,400 followers on Facebook after she was fired. “I’ve made a big decision and decided not to allow the company . . . to control my personal health choices.”

Simmons posted her statement a day after posting a link to her last story for the station, a Web article that indicated the potentially beneficial aspects of mandates. It was headlined, “Springfield Public Schools leaders attribute mask mandate to keeping more kids in the classroom.”

In a YouTube video titled “Fired!,” Tim Jones, the former meteorologist for Gray-owned KSNB in central Nebraska, said, “The whole thing sucks, but bigger and better things [are] ahead.” He dedicated the video to “fellow co-workers who also lost their jobs from this unfair policy,” and added a quote often attributed to George Orwell: “The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

Even if the fired reporters are making waves in their communities, there’s not yet much sign that they’re inspiring a larger movement of resistance. An online fundraiser that aims to raise $100,000 for a class-action lawsuit against Gray has so far raised only $285.