BOSTON (CBS) — As the NFL works through its plans and protocols for the 2021 season, it’s becoming clear that the league strongly believes players and coaches ought to get vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. Ultimately, it’s an individual’s decision, but the league is placing many restrictions on players who do not receive the vaccination.

While the exact numbers of vaccinated players are not known for specific teams and rosters, the Patriots organization tried to get an early jump on educating and addressing potential concerns about the vaccine when Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty participated in a video in early April with Dr. O’Neill Britton, Dr. Sebastian Hamilton and Dr. Shahrzad Slater (Slater’s wife).

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That video was part of a larger effort to provide information to Patriots players and the community at large regarding the vaccine, and that’s something that Joe Cardona said he appreciates about the organization.

“To have an organization as a whole and a locker room that prioritizes science over misinformation or whatever else is out there and presents the facts to us players in a concise manner and addresses concerns regarding vaccination, regarding whatever concerns a player has, has been really great to be a part of,” Cardona told the media on Wednesday. “Because you see guys that have concerns ask about it, it gets addressed, they get to talk to an expert in the field. Whether their mind changes or not, at least they have the facts presented to them. And then our staff, our athletic training staff has been a great resource for everybody.”

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Cardona, a long snapper out of Navy entering his seventh season with the Patriots, gave specific praise to the training staff, which has been lead by Jim Whalen since 2002.

“I would say our staff here, Jim Whalen — we can’t say enough about Jim Whalen and the work he’s done throughout this entire pandemic to maintain a safe working environment,” Cardona said. “And every resource that we have here in New England, the city of Boston, the best epidemiologists, the best doctors in the world, they’re right up the road here at MGH, at Brigham and Women’s, Dana-Farber. At every turn, we have the resources and they’re presented to us. So Jim Whelan taking lead and getting us through this in a safe manner has been tremendously influential. It’s been one of the most important aspects of our team — as expected this past year — and he’s taken on that role. You can’t say enough about the support staff as a whole and the way they’ve handled this and keeping the players safe.”

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Outside of the players and coaches, the Patriots organization obviously played a role in helping to vaccinate the public. The team opened up Gillette Stadium as a mass vaccination site for Massachusetts residents, with 610,283 doses distributed at the stadium.

CBSBoston.com Staff