AKRON, Ohio — Akron Children’s Hospital is placing an undisclosed number of its employees who haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine—a requirement and deadline instituted by the hospital— on unpaid leave, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed.
Jan. 11 was the hospital’s deadline for employees to receive at least two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A spokesperson for Akron Children’s released a statement from its CEO confirming employees who had not met the hospital's requirement would be placed on unpaid leave.
“While the Jan. 11 deadline for our Covid-19 vaccination requirement is firm, we are working with those employees who have expressed in good faith their commitment to be fully vaccinated,” said Lisa Aurilio, chief operating officer at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Those employees for which we have no record of vaccination or exemption were notified on Friday that they will be placed on unpaid leave. This will not happen without a one-on-one meeting between an employee and manager. We value the contribution of each and every employee, but we must uphold our founding promise to provide the best care possible for every child in our service area. A vaccinated workforce is the best way to protect our patients, especially those who are immuno-compromised, chronically ill or not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”
According to News 5 media partner Akron Beacon Journal, about 80% of employees at the hospital were vaccinated in December. Akron Children's changed its policy after the federal mandate, which would have required all health care workers to be vaccinated or face fines from the government, was announced.
Some employees and their supporters protested against the vaccine mandate Monday. Aurilio released the following statement to ABJ before the protest Monday.
"We know we have some employees with differences of opinion about the COVID-19 vaccine,” she said. “Requiring employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 has been a difficult decision for Akron Children’s Hospital, but we are following the science that vaccines work in greatly reducing the risk of serious illness and hospitalization and of spreading the virus to others. Millions of Americans have received the vaccines. They are safe and effective. This policy is also consistent with those to have employees be vaccinated for the flu annually and other diseases upon being hired. These have been in place for many years."
The decision to place employees on unpaid leave comes on the same day News 5 reported Akron Children’s Hospital saw the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations this week.
The hospital reported 39 kids were being treated for either the virus or MIS-C, a post-COVID inflammatory syndrome, at the main campus in Akron and the Mahoning Valley Campus.
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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