By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics have begun the vaccination process. Though president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge explained Thursday morning that some players and staff members do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We had a few people on staff and a few players who didn’t want to. But they have had that opportunity,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday.

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“They all have different reasons as to why they didn’t want to get it,” Ainge explained. “Some feel we don’t have enough information and some feel they just don’t do any vaccinations; they don’t do flu shots and don’t believe in putting poison in their bodies. They don’t feel comfortable doing it. It’s the same reason people don’t take anti-inflammatory or aspirin. That’s just the way it is. … We can’t force them and they all have their own beliefs in this process.”

Ainge said that if 85 percent of the Celtics staff and players get vaccinated, NBA regulations would ease some of the protocols in place.

“We get more breaks and freedom if a certain number get the vaccine,” said Ainge, adding that less masking during workouts and players not having to go through daily testing are a few of those breaks.

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Ainge said that one player who was on the fence about getting the shot ended up getting vaccinated to avoid daily testing. He also isn’t surprised that a handful of players don’t want the vaccine.

“I don’t think the Celtics are an outlier. There are other teams with less success getting players vaccinated,” said Ainge. “It’s part of our society; there are many people choosing not to get vaccinated. Everyone has their reasons, but there is a lot of fear out there about the vaccines.”

The Celtics have been one of the NBA’s hardest-hit teams by COVID-19. Boston had three games postponed early in the season due to health and safety protocols, and star forward Jayson Tatum missed two weeks with the virus. He recently admitted that he had to use an inhaler before games to help his lungs. Romeo Langford and Tristan Thompson both missed significant time over the last month after testing positive, and newcomer Evan Fournier is set to miss his ninth game after testing positive earlier this month.

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Ainge said Thursday that Fournier has been cleared to return to the floor and now has to work his way back into playing shape. Fournier could be back in the Boston lineup as early as this weekend, according to Ainge. Staff