BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Time is almost up for Akron Children’s Hospital employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

By Tuesday, all employees are required to be vaccinated before facing major consequences.

On Monday, at Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, current and even former employees, like Cris Fellows, stood outside to bring awareness to the possibility of losing their jobs.

“This is a vigil. This is silent, somber. We’re just here to support the people who are about to lose their job,” Fellows said.

Fellows took early retirement to avoid getting vaccinated.

She, and around 10 others, braved the cold for nearly two hours to hold candles and signs, honoring workers who are at risk of job loss.

Fellows believes being vaccinated should be a personal choice.

“I am completely against mandating this. This is, per all statistics, has proven not to be a personal choice,” she said.

Josh Desalvo, a current employee, said he believes the mandate is unethical.

“As a medical establishment, we are supposed to abide by a rule of ethics. I think that what is being done is against that,” he said.

Lisa Aurilio, chief operating officer at Akron Children’s Hospital, released the following statement. It says, in part, that employees with no record of vaccination or exemption were notified of being placed on unpaid leave and that a vaccinated workforce is the best way to protect their patients.

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. 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.

Employees like Desalvo believe they should still have a choice.

“What the hospital is choosing to do, choosing to neglect medical ethics, choosing to not really value their employees,” Desalvo stated.

Akron Children’s says it will meet one on one with each unvaccinated worker before they get the layoff notice.