General Hospital star fired over COVID vaccine refusal

By Alexandra Heilbron on November 24, 2021 | 23 Comments

Steve Burton. Photo Courtesy: ABC

Steve Burton, who played Jason Morgan on the long-running soap opera General Hospital for the past 30 years, was fired from the show yesterday (Nov. 23). He’s the second actor from the TV series to be let go for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

The first — German-born actor Ingo Rademacher — whose Instagram is full of anti-vaccine messages, refused to comply with the vaccine mandate. In response to being fired, he wrote on Instagram:

“To all the bigots that called for my firing at GH and made #fireIngo trend… Getting vaccinated does not stop you from spreading the virus. That’s straight from the CDC. Mandating any vaccine is wrong but especially one that doesn’t help stop the spread, that’s nothing short of crazy talk. If you want to take the vaccine, take it. Just know you’re doing it for yourself, not to save anyone else. You’re not a hero.”

In response, his followers wrote comments such as: “Wow. You’re an utter moron, huh?” and “You are not smart and you are spreading lies. You will and have likely killed people by spreading such lies.”

It came as no surprise that Burton was the next in line to be fired after he also refused to get vaccinated. Burton posted a video on Instagram in which he said, “I wanted you to hear it from me personally. 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, you know, hurts. But this is also about personal freedom to me.”

A vaccine mandate for anyone working on the set when the actors aren’t wearing masks went into effect Nov. 1, 2021 on the set of General Hospital.

Other stars who have refused to return to TV sets due to COVID-19 vaccination requirements include Emilio Estevez, who will not be returning to The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. He has been written out of Season 2 scripts.

Most recently, Rockmond Dunbar, who plays Michael Grant on the Fox TV series 9-1-1, was written off the show after he refused to be vaccinated and instead applied for a medical and religious exemption, which was denied.

In September, Miles Teller refused to be vaccinated prior to filming of the Paramount+ series The Offer, then tested positive for COVID-19. Production had to be halted while everyone Teller came into contact with was tested and quarantined.

Missing from the set of Season 3 of the popular Netflix series Virgin River was Annette O’Toole, who plays the town busybody, although it wasn’t clear whether she didn’t return due to a fear of catching COVID-19 or a refusal to wear a mask/be vaccinated, as the show was filmed early during the pandemic, from August to December 2020. Her character was seen virtually through video chats.

On the other side, Sean Penn refused to return to the TV series Gaslight until everyone involved with the production on set was vaccinated. ~Alexandra Heilbron

Comments & Discussion

  1. Nancy • November 24, 2021 @ 7:07 PM

    Everyone has the right to choose, mandating is wrong! Vaccines only protect you! So if a dozen people didnt get vaccinated then theyre the ones take chances of getting Covid! Freedom in this country allows us to choose! First amendment rights !!

  2. quinn • November 25, 2021 @ 9:43 AM

    We all have to walk our own path.

  3. Paul • November 25, 2021 @ 10:18 AM

    I agree with choice but unless there is a better way to get out of this pandemic, get vaccinated. The lockdowns made me very depressed, isolated and alone. Get vaccinated and lets get over this nightmare.

  4. Paul • November 25, 2021 @ 10:24 AM

    Yes Nancy – everyone has the right to choose. Employees can choose whether or not to vaccinate and also employers can choose whether or not to employ employees for not following their policies. Choice worked as expected here as per your rights.

  5. Deb • November 25, 2021 @ 10:40 AM

    Nancy, you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. It just proves how uneducated you are. Vaccines protect those around you as much (or more) as the protect you. Those who allow themselves to get Covid continue to spread it to others and allows this pandemic to continue on and become endemic. Educate yourself about the influenza pandemic of 1918 and you’ll see where this is going. We, the public have every right to be protected from plague rats like you. My grievance is why should we allow you to have medical care if you should get Covid and need to take up a bed in a hospital, drain the healthcare system and public tax dollars on something that could have been prevented by a simple and safe vaccine. Sure the choice may be yours, but stay the ____ home. You are just another plague rat coward. Nothing more.

  6. Lorena S • November 25, 2021 @ 10:57 AM

    Selfish, uninformed and ignorant. Glad he was fired – and if you need attention – well you got it my boy. adios

  7. Janet • November 25, 2021 @ 10:58 AM

    I am sorry to see Steve Burton go. I really liked his character and no one can replace him but that is his decision and he is going to suffer the consequences. We all have to do what we can to wipe out and weaken this virus and if that is mandated vaccines then so be it.

  8. Jennifer D • November 25, 2021 @ 11:14 AM

    Being an actor/actress on GH or any other show is a privilege, not a right. He had an option; Get vaccinated to keep everyone on set safe and keep his job or refuse the vaccine and lose his job. He made his choice. A sad one. I’m sure there will be plenty of vaccinated actors pounding down GH’s doors in hopes of securing a role in his absence. The show must go on. Get vaccinated, protect our weak, elderly and children. Stay safe everyone!

  9. Michael • November 25, 2021 @ 11:47 AM

    I have a question for some of you. Do you believe that if you are vaccinated you cannot catch or spread covid? The CDC says differently. These vaccines are not like the polo and smallpox vaccines that everyone likes to bring up. Those prevented you from getting the virus in the first place. The covid vaccines do not prevent you from catching the virus.
    So taking the shot might lessen your symptoms, but it won’t keep you from catching or spreading the covid virus.

  10. Justin • November 25, 2021 @ 12:12 PM

    Right on the money Michael. It’s sad to see the aggressiveness from some people about all this while not responding to these sorts of points.
    There seems to be some sort of illusion that they’re under (which usually corresponds to what the media is pumping out).
    Good on this actor for standing his ground on what he believes.
    There are facts and then their are narratives. Everyone who hates on someone for making a personal choice such as getting the vaccine or not, please educate yourselves on the facts and the science, not the biases or the narratives of the media. All the best 🙂

  11. gord • November 25, 2021 @ 12:19 PM

    Boy Deb, you have no clue. Even if double vaxxed you can still get and transmit Covid. That is a fact

  12. Limestone • November 25, 2021 @ 3:39 PM

    Gord – Yes, even those who are double vaxxed, you can get Covid, especially the variants of Covid (Delta etc), but much less likely than no vaccination shots. Once vaccinated, if you contract the virus, your symptoms are reduced or nonexistent. Also, the amount of virus you shed is reduced meaning there is less virus to spread to family, friends and contacts.

    Vaccination plus other protocols are the way out of this damn pandemic and back to previous FREEDOM !!!

    Get your 2 shots, then get your booster.
    Promote your country to ensure there are ample supply for ALL countries to prevent more variants from developing. Human-kind (and some mammals too) are all in this together. The solution: “Everyone has to work together!”

  13. Terry • November 25, 2021 @ 6:20 PM

    Deb — VERY WELL SAID!!! And COVID ignorant people who spout off about still being able to catch & spread the virus even when double vax’d are selfish — and yes — ignorant. They think their Human Rights are far more important than the lives of everyone else around them. Double vax’d people CAN catch & spread the virus but are 90% less likely to end up in hospital because of it or die. In fact — they might not even know they have it at all until they test positive somewhere. Much better than ending up on a ventilator fighting for their lives & being tube fed & ending up with some kind of life long damage if they should survive at all from it.
    So — all you ignoramuses who believe vaccinations make no difference — just don’t get vax’d at all — but stay away from those who care about their lives & their safety & when you catch it & die, they can mark on your gravestone that you were an advocate for your Human Rights. It will look better carved into stone than something that goes like this “Used a lethal, contagious weapon to try to kill his friends & family & fellow humans – & perished”. That sounds dramatic by far, but that’s exactly it in a nutshell.

  14. selfish people causing surgeries to be cancelled • November 25, 2021 @ 11:04 PM

    didn’t you get vaccinated as a kid?
    if you are unvaxxed and get co-vid, your symptoms will be much worse

    i take it you will refuse medical help too right?
    ha! i bet you’ll be demanding to be seen, first thing

    the entitlement…

  15. Jan • November 26, 2021 @ 1:29 PM

    I agree with Deb. Plague Rats shud be denied health care, if they continue to not get vaccinated…they’re spreaders and should not be choking up the Hospitals ,and taking up much needed beds, from People that have been vaccinated, but got the covid from ,a plague rat, who keeps infecting

  16. Valerie Abeyta • November 26, 2021 @ 3:45 PM

    You will be Missed !! GH is stupid for letting you go over that. This whole Covid thing is just another way of the government trying to control us. They planted the whole thing to try and blame trump the real problem is the ratical left wanting to control all of us..

  17. Kay • November 27, 2021 @ 12:03 PM

    Good for him. Most are uneducated as to the real reason for these COVID mandates. A leaked virus created for gain of function control of populations. It isnt a vaccination, but a shot. People dont be so controlled by this bogus administration. Theyre aiming at controlling us and God only knows what else.

  18. Butch Queen • November 27, 2021 @ 8:34 PM

    Now we can publicly see who the stupid people are! I love vaccine mandates.

  19. Janet • November 28, 2021 @ 12:03 AM

    Kay and Valerie. You have to be kidding.

  20. Katherine • November 29, 2021 @ 12:30 PM

    After over 40 years watching the show, I will not be watching it anymore. Such foolishness infringing on their constitutional rights. So irritated with all the lies that are deceiving so many naive people. Not a wise decision General Hospital!

  21. Laurie Shapiro • November 29, 2021 @ 6:00 PM

    Sorry but these anti-vax sentiments won’t wash. Just like prohibiting yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, living in society has rules and restrictions that promote the greater good. Your individual liberty is not more important than joining the greater populace to help eradicate this pandemic. People have died, many still suffer from ill effects of the virus, and others have lost their businesses and careers. I’m a long time fan of the show and cheered at the return of both Jax and Jason, but their selfish actions illustrate their true character, unlike their GH characters. Hopefully, they’ll find their way back to the kind and considerate human race.

  22. Lana • November 30, 2021 @ 11:17 PM

    Maybe they can hire him back with an apology when Omicron starts exploiting the vaccines, and then unvaccinate the rest of the cast. …Oh, wait a sec…

  23. John Francis Fox • December 1, 2021 @ 1:33 AM

    We must think of all the sacrifices made by Americans in the past- especially during World War I and World War II when people had to cope with food rationing and gasoline rationing. Therefore, getting a vaccine shot should not seen as a sacrifice or as intrusion on your personal freedom.

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