Steve Burton has been fired from 'General Hospital' after deciding against being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The soap star - who has played Jason Morgan in 2, 284 episodes of the daytime drama since 1991 - admitted it "hurts" to have lost his job as a result of the vaccine mandate after his bid to be exempted from the jabs were denied, but insisted it was important to stick by his "personal freedom".
Confirming rumours about his exit from the show, he said in a video shared to Instagram: "I know there's been a lot of rumours and speculation about me and 'General Hospital', and 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 for me. I don't think anyone should lose their livelihood over this."
However, Steve insisted he will always be "grateful" for his stint on the show and he's optimistic about the future.
He added: "I'll always be grateful for my time at 'General Hospital'. I love it there, I grew up there.... so I'll always be grateful.
"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 the 51-year-old actor - who contracted COVID-19 in August - is hopeful he could return to the soap one day.
He said: "Maybe one day, if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor. And if not, I'm gonna take this amazing experience, move forward and be forever grateful."
Steve's departure comes shortly after it was confirmed Ingo Rademacher - who has been condemned for sharing anti-vaccine messaging on his social media account - had lost his role as Jasper 'Jax' Jacks on the show after 25 years for the same reason.
The show's vaccine mandate - which requires everyone present on the set to be vaccinated against coronavirus - came into effect on 1 November.