INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, but that doesn't mean he is pushing his constituents to do the same.
“I'm a congressman, not a doctor or a pastor. My constituents don't elect me to tell them what to do or to preach to them,” he told The Journal Gazette on Friday. “It was a personal decision.”
Banks this week has pushed back against new federal guidance urging even those vaccinated to start wearing masks indoors again. And he has spoken against a mandate in the U.S. House to wear masks.
On “Fox and Friends First” on Friday he said, “if you follow the science there's no logic,” noting there are far fewer COVID-19 deaths now than when restrictions were dropped earlier.
Banks said he wasn't hiding his vaccination status but that no one has asked. He said “it's not my role” to push people to get vaccinated.
When Indiana U.S. Sen. Mike Braun has been asked if he got the shot, he has repeatedly refused to answer.
That is markedly different than key Indiana politicians like Gov. Eric Holcomb and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, who got their vaccines publicly and have encouraged Hoosiers to join. House Speaker Todd Huston also has been vocally supportive of the vaccine.
Holcomb said in a new executive order posted Thursday that unvaccinated Hoosiers are at the most risk for serious illness, hospitalization and death.
“All Hoosiers 12 and above are strongly encouraged to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination, which will be provided at no cost,” the order said.
As of Friday, 50.5% of Indiana's eligible population has been vaccinated. The vast majority of new cases are in the unvaccinated category.