Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb criticized President Biden’s vaccine mandate in a press release Friday. Holcomb expressed his support for vaccination but said the government should not make the decision on behalf of Americans.
Biden announced a new vaccine mandate during a speech Thursday, which will affect more than 100 million Americans, according to the Associated Press. The mandate requires all government workers and contractors to be vaccinated with limited exceptions. The mandate also requires private employers with more than 100 employees to either mandate vaccinations or conduct weekly COVID-19 tests. Healthcare workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid are also required to vaccinate.
Holcomb said in the release Biden’s vaccine mandates overstep the federal government’s role.
“I believe the vaccine is the number one tool that will protect us and our loved ones against COVID-19,” he said. “It is the tool that will end the pandemic. However, I strongly believe it’s not the state or federal government’s role to issue a vaccine mandate upon citizens and private businesses.”
Holcomb said the mandates deny American citizens the freedom of choice.
“The announcement from President Biden is a bridge too far,” he said. “I believe it is fundamentally a citizen’s right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. While I wish everyone would get the vaccine, we are a country built on this exact type of freedom.”
Holcomb’s statement echoes those of other Republican governors, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who supported vaccinations but criticized the vaccine mandates, according to the Texas Tribune.
Holcomb’s statement comes in the wake of increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections in Indiana. More than 2,600 hospitalizations for COVID-related reasons were reported Thursday, the highest hospitalization rate since January, according to the Indiana State Department of Health website. Around 3.1 million people are fully vaccinated in Indiana, according to the ISDH vaccination dashboard, accounting for roughly 46% of Indiana’s 6.7 million population.