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About 50 correction officers are suspended over state's COVID vaccine mandate

Dozens of Massachusetts correction officers recently were suspended from their jobs after refusing to get a coronavirus vaccine.

The Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union (MCOFU) said about 50 officers were suspended after the state's vaccine mandate went into effect on Oct. 17.

"The Department of Correction suspended 50 hard working men and women who worked throughout the pandemic," said MCOFU legislative representative Kevin Flanagan.

The officers' requests for exemptions were denied, and hearings will be held to review their suspensions. Hundreds of the union's 3,300 members earlier applied for religious or medical exemptions from the vaccine.

Separately, the union is appealing a federal judge's ruling rejecting its request for an injunction against the state's vaccine mandate. The judge ruled earlier this month that public health interests outweighed the correction officers' potential job losses for refusing to get vaccinated. Documents filed in the suit in estimated about 40% of Massachusetts correction officers were not fully vaccinated.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the mandate in August that requires all executive branch workers get vaccinated. National Guard members have been training to work at state prisons and jails in case of staffing shortages.

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Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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