Senate staffer Kendra Hawkins is inoculated with the Moderna vaccine by Mississippi Department of Health Pharmacist Anna Ward at the State Capitol on Jan. 19, 2021. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Mississippians are generally more open to getting a COVID-19 vaccination than they were in early January, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll from Millsaps College and Chism Strategies found that 63% of those polled said they will definitely or probably will get vaccinated. Another 13% reported already being vaccinated. Of the remaining people surveyed, 20% said they probably or definitely will not get vaccinated and 5% are unsure. Mississippians have reconsidered their stance on the vaccines since the same poll was conducted in January, when nearly half of survey takers said they may refuse to receive the vaccine or were unsure about it.

MAP: Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi

This change in public opinion is likely due to the dramatic increase in vaccine rollout over the past few months. People who may have been hesitant to receive a vaccine when they were first approved have seen friends, family and neighbors get vaccinated safely over the past few months.

“Voters are learning more about the necessity of the vaccines, how participation in vaccination will help the nation return to normal more quickly and receiving encouragement from medical and public health experts along with a noticeably different tone from federal officials. These things have truly helped move the needle for us,” said Dr. Nathan Shrader, chair of the Department of Government and Politics at Millsaps College.

The approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in particular, has helped. The J&J vaccine only requires one dose and it was produced through conventional methods instead of the newer and less familiar mRNA vaccine technology. Factors like these have helped soothe many people with reservations about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mississippi became the second state to make immunization against COVID-19 available to all residents aged 16 and up on Tuesday. Last week, President Joseph R. Biden directed all U.S. states and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1st.

In Mississippi, 592,500 people — about 20% of the state’s total population — have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 330,000 people have been fully inoculated since the state began distributing vaccines in December.

READ MORE: Frequently asked questions about COVID vaccines in Mississippi


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Will Stribling covers healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.