Steve Burton General Hospital actor fired over his decision to refuse COVID-19 vaccination as social media responds ABC’s mandatory workplace policy.
General Hospital actor Steve Burton has been fired from the long running show after refusing to comply with the COVID vaccine mandate.
Burton, 51, who plays character Jason Morgan on the ABC soap opera, confirmed the news in an Instagram video to his fans, explaining his ‘hurt’ over the decision, after refusing to get the jab.
His character appeared to be killed off on Monday’s episode when a tunnel collapsed on him. He had appeared on and off the show since as far back as 1991 according to People.
‘I know there’s been a lot of rumors and speculations about me and General Hospital and I wanted you to hear it from me personally. Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go because of the vaccine mandate,’ Burton said in his video.
Hollywood has been forced to get stricter about COVID-19 vaccine mandates in recent months, as the federal government pushes employers to act.
— Jackie 🦃🧣 (@HotVannaNights) November 23, 2021
Personal freedom and livelihood at stake
The latest firing follows 9-1-1 star Rockmond Dunbar who revealed he was let go of the Fox drama last week for also refusing the vaccine, having tried to apply for medical and religious exemptions.
Burton had tried a similar route but to no avail.
‘I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions and both of those were denied, which hurts, but this is also about personal freedom to me,’ the actor explained in the video.
‘I don’t think anyone should lose their livelihood over this. But with that being said, you know me, I’ll always be grateful for my time at General Hospital. I love it there, I grew up there, I grew up with some of you. I’ll always be grateful.’
Trying to see the bright side of the situation, the actor said he believes multiple doors open when one closes, adding that he is ‘excited to see what the future brings.’
Addressing whether he would ever return to the soap, the actor said: ‘Maybe one day if these mandates are lifted I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor.’
He concluded: ‘If not, I’m going to take this amazing experience, move forward and be forever grateful.’
Social media responds
News of the soap star’s axing, led to a wide swath of comments on social media.
Posted one Twitter user: ‘How has it been forgotten that people are more than their vaccine status? He is a human with a family who has long term relationships and friendships with his fellow actors.’
Wrote another, ‘Guess I’ll be jumping ship to Young and the Restless or Days since they have lots of actors who were once on GH. HUGE mistake saying goodbye to these vets over a mandate that should not even be a mandate.’
While another user opined, ‘What’s 750,000 American deaths & counting, from a contagious virus that can be controlled by vaccines & masks, in comparison to you just not wanting to do any of those things. Actors should be allowed on set, indoors, real close, & risk theirs & others lives for our entertainment.’
Burton tested positive for COVID-19 in August after he said he was exposed to the virus ‘at work,’ though he didn’t specify whether he was referring to the General Hospital set. He postponed his upcoming comedy club appearances and said in a video at the time that he was experiencing ‘no symptoms.’
The announcement of his exit comes nearly two weeks after his former costar Ingo Rademacher similarly parted ways with General Hospital because he declined to comply with the production’s recent vaccine mandate.
General Hospital‘s vaccine mandate for Zone A, which includes the actors and all crew who are present on set when the actors aren’t wearing masks, went into effect on Nov. 1.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone aged 5 years and older in the U.S. get vaccinated against COVID-19.
A study released by the organization earlier this year found that among people who are fully vaccinated, the risk of COVID-19 infection was reduced by 91%. Additionally, the risk of infection among those who were partially vaccinated was 81% lower.