Steve Burton (The Young and the Restless) has confirmed on Instagram that he was fired from the long-running ABC soap opera, General Hospital, because of his reluctance to vaccinate himself against the coronavirus, according to Variety. The vaccine mandate for production at General Hospital for all those present on set, including actors, went into effect November 1.
Burton has played the role of Jason Morgan on General Hospital since 1991, and tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-August, while still publicizing anti-vaccine rhetoric on his social media pages. A fellow General Hospital star, Ingo Rademacher (A Royal Christmas Ball), was also asked to leave the show after refusing to comply with its vaccine mandate. He played the role of Jasper “Jax” Jacks on General Hospital for 25 years. His final episode aired this passed Monday.
On his Instagram, Burton launched into an explanation for his departure from the show, having admitted to being fired. “I wanted you to hear it from me personally,” via Variety. “Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go because of the vaccine mandate. 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. I don’t think anyone should lose their livelihood over this.”
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Compared to other daytime soaps such as NBC’s Days of our Lives, and CBS’ The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital is the only one that instituted a vaccine mandate. Furthermore, recasting of popular characters is not new to the genre of soaps, and it can be assumed that Burton’s character may be recast or even killed off, given the events of his last episode where a tunnel collapsed on Jason. Burton has played Jason Morgan on and off for over 30 years, while pursuing other roles.
Burton did mention in his Instagram post that in a post-pandemic world without vaccine mandates, perhaps his character would be able to return.
“Maybe one day if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor,” he said.