INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday night that he would not support
requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine once such immunizations
The question of
mandating such vaccines was asked during a debate among the Republican
governor and his two election opponents as Indiana has continued to face
steep increases in coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations
stretching back to when Holcomb lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions
“It shouldn’t be
mandated but should be encouraged when it is safe,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb has faced
criticism from some conservatives around the state that he has exceeded his
authority with a statewide mask mandate and executive orders such as the
stay-at-home order he issued in March aimed at slowing the coronavirus
comes even though Indiana law already requires 11 vaccines for public school
students, including those for whooping cough, tetanus, measles and
The governor said
he wanted to make sure the vaccine can be quickly made available around the
“We want to make
sure that we’re ready to rock and roll when it does come to Indiana, getting
it out to the front line, getting it out to the most vulnerable, getting it
out to our schools and long-term care centers,” Holcomb said.
challenger Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, didn’t
say whether he supported requiring a COVID-19 vaccine but said immunizations
have been cost-effective life savers for many years. He said he hoped a
coronavirus vaccine was available soon.
“We don’t know the
full side-effect profiles yet and we don’t know all of those restrictions,
but they are going to be coming,” Myers said.
Some opponents of
Holcomb’s coronavirus actions have rallied around Libertarian Donald
Rainwater, who has been firmly against the statewide mask mandate. He argued
any vaccine will have side effects and health risks.
“It must be a
citizen’s responsibility to determine what level of risk they’re willing to
take, what level of risk they are willing to put their children under and
government should not be involved in that decision,” Rainwater said.
officials on Tuesday added 51 coronavirus-related deaths to Indiana’s toll,
which has reached 4,194, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus
infections, since the state’s first death was reported in mid-March.
Indiana’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has roughly doubled in the
debate came a week after the three candidates sparred over Holcomb’s
coronavirus orders and less than a week before Election Day, although at
least 1.2 million votes have already cast with mail-in ballots or at early
Holcomb has been
able to keep up a front-runner campaign for a second four-year term with
large advantages of name identification, fundraising and organization over
Myers and Rainwater.
The hourlong debate
was held with the three candidates and the moderator in separate areas of
the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 precautions,
according to organizers with the nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission.
Myers has argued
that Holcomb shouldn’t have lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last
month and should impose a statewide mask mandate that includes possible
penalties for violators. Rainwater, meanwhile, maintains the governor has
exceeded his authority with executive orders that include the statewide mask
split during Tuesday’s debate on the question of changing state laws that
prohibit any possession or use of marijuana.
Myers said he
supported allowing medical marijuana and removing criminal penalties for
possessing small amounts. Rainwater called for complete legalization without
any state regulation of marijuana sales.
his previous stance against any marijuana law changes as long as it is
classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 controlled substance,
which means it’s not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for
Holcomb said he
didn’t believe there was enough medical research into the effects of
marijuana use, even though states such as Illinois and Michigan have already
legalized its recreational use and Ohio permits medical marijuana.
“I’m very suspect
about looking to legalize controlled substances for revenue reasons,”
Holcomb said. “I don’t do things just because 34 other states have looked
the other way and said we don’t need federal approval, we’ll break the law,