Longtime "General Hospital" actor Steve Burton says he was fired from that ABC daytime drama over his refusal to obtain an employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccination.
"I know there [have] been a lot of rumors and speculations about me and 'General Hospital' and I wanted you to hear it from me personally," the 51-year-old Daytime Emmy Award winner said in an Instagram video posted Tuesday. "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, y'know, hurts. But this is also about personal freedom to me. I don't think anybody should lose their livelihood over this."
Burton, who has played mobster and hit man Jason Quartermaine / Jason Morgan on the series since 1992, added, "I'll always be grateful for my time at 'General Hospital.' I love it there. I grew up there. … And I believe that when one door closes, multiple doors open. That's always been my perspective. So I am excited to see what the future brings and maybe one day if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. … And if not, I'm going to take this amazing experience, move forward and be forever grateful."
Newsday confirmed that "General Hospital" has a vaccine mandate and that Burton filmed his last episode on Oct. 27. Burton's representative did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.
Ingo Rademacher, who until recently played Australian corporate raider Jasper "Jax" Jacks on the show, said in an Instagram video on Nov. 8 that he had quit over the vaccine mandate. He commented on Burton's post, "Well said my friend."
While California, where the series is shot, does not mandate employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19, an employer may require it, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency says exemptions can be implemented "because of an allergy to one of the vaccine components or a medical condition" or "because of a sincerely held religious belief."