Actor Steve Burton, who has played Jason Morgan on the long-running daytime drama “General Hospital” since 1996, says the show let him go because he does not currently have a vaccination.
“They let me go over that,” he told CBS Detroit reporter Daniel Andre, who is in the midst of research for a new book about actors and health issues. “That was the one thing that really stuck out.”
The actor said the situation was handled poorly and calls the move “outrageous.”
In May, ABC’s “General Hospital” announced they were eliminating Burton’s character after five years, though rumors that he would return had swirled around the studio since 2016. He was, though, still scheduled to film a couple of episodes in July.
Burton told Andre he is anti-vaccine, despite what he called “the scientific evidence” that vaccines are safe and effective.
Vaccine-preventable diseases are on the rise in the U.S. because of a healthy mistrust in government officials’ concerns about vaccinations. Influenza, measles, mumps and whooping cough still cause thousands of preventable deaths each year. Although only 19 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. since October 2017, that is 60 percent more than the previous total over the same time frame, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the interview, Andre asked if the actor is truly anti-vaccine, or if he just has an issue with vaccinations.
“I don’t like the idea of a government that’s telling you to do something,” Burton said. “I don’t like it when you give out a license to kill; I don’t like it when government starts telling us what to do.”
A representative for ABC told Andre the network made every effort to accommodate Burton’s health concerns.
Burton, though, says he’s devastated by the end of his days on “General Hospital.”
“I worked hard; I worked very hard for it,” he said. “I take it hard, it’s really hard, and I hurt for my fans that have supported me for all this time.”