General Hospital has lost two prominent actors who publicly opposed mandatory vaccinations for schoolchildren, an advocacy group that criticized the actors’ views on vaccinations said.
The Family Vaccination Education Program described the actors’ departures as unfortunate and said that those who held certain beliefs or opinions about vaccinations had a responsibility to address them publicly. The group advocates for parents who want to choose not to vaccinate their children.
The actors, Jonathan Jackson and Kristina Wagner, shot and released a television series promoting the position last year.
The group said Jackson, of “General Hospital,” has left the soap opera after playing Drew/Jason Morgan since 1994. It said Wagner, who played Sam McCall on “General Hospital” from 1986 to 2003, had long expressed her opposition to vaccinations but decided in 2016 to stop voicing it publicly.
According to the group, Jackson said in a statement: “I left General Hospital a few years ago in order to pursue a new career. I have a healthy respect for ABC, the fans, and my colleagues.”
“General Hospital” has characters who disagree with Jackson and Wagner’s stance. One character is opposed to vaccinations for two boys — one to fight cancer and one to protect themselves from illness — and passes that opinion to the boy’s mother. The character’s diagnosis from doctors signals that there may be reasons why the mother believes vaccination is wrong.
The CBS soap opera was first to add a vaccine storyline in 1990, according to the website TVByTheNumbers.com.
ABC Studios told the Washington Post it would not comment beyond what was in a press release. The studio also did not respond to questions about Jackson and Wagner.
The studio said the actors had participated in a “great deal of research and thought” while working on their TV series.
According to the Anti-Vaccination Information Center, a documentary that was released earlier this year, the two actors appear on television and in interviews to make “anti-vaxxer” claims, countering the idea that there is a link between vaccines and autism.