BOSTON (CBS) – A Massachusetts correction officer who didn’t want to be identified got approved for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in September. He told the I-Team, he thought he was all set.

“I’ve been religious my entire life,” he said. The officer says he and his colleagues do a job most people don’t want to do. “If you are offering religious and medical exemptions then they should be honored,” he said.

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But the officer says weeks after the approval, the department sent a notification that the exemption was on hold. Weeks after that, he got another email that said the approval was an error and that the request was denied.

“When I went to work, I was given a 5-day suspension for not getting the COVID vaccine,” he said.

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The correction officers’ union said more than two dozen of its members who got exemptions had them rescinded – and have been suspended.

Kevin Flanagan with the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union tells the I-Team the process has been confusing and frustrating. “Our members are definitely willing to be tested, masked, PPE,” Flanagan said. “What’s the plan? What is going forward? that’s a good question, we don’t have an answer for unfortunately.”

The suspended officer has a tough decision to make. “It’s just not right,” the officer said. “It’s just tearing me up inside thinking that I have to give up a career I love doing because it is going to kill me morally.”

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The Department of Correction said it does not comment on personnel matters and says it will release more information on the exemptions in the coming days.

Cheryl Fiandaca