Image copyright ABC Image caption Michael E) is one of two General Hospital actors to have resigned from the show since the March vaccination mandate
Two actors from US soap opera General Hospital have quit after a law requiring vaccinations in schools went into effect.
Michael Epperson and Michael Easton said they supported a parent’s right to have their child vaccinated but that they didn’t agree with the law.
It passed the state’s House of Representatives in March after years of lobbying by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) members.
The health department says 99% of students already comply with the rule.
‘We respect the decision’
Mr Epperson wrote on Twitter: “It has been and always will be my sincere intention to always support our children’s health, safety and happiness. However, in this moment, I feel my passion is best placed in areas in which I am truly making a difference.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Michael Easton plays Dr Peter Beaumont on General Hospital
Mr Easton shared a message of his own, saying he didn’t agree with the law but that he “respected the decision”, because he wanted his children to be able to succeed.
“Even in the state of Connecticut, where I have lived and worked my entire adult life, public schools don’t require immunizations for most school-aged children.
“Perhaps that change in the law is intended to place more control over parents’ healthcare decisions, to provide more control over school-aged children’s health and well-being. I hope it does,” he said.
In Connecticut, the community rule permits children who are too young for vaccines to attend school if their families are willing to have the individual vaccinations administered at a local clinic.
But opponents of the rule said their research revealed that the CDC recommended vaccinating every child against at least 12 of the most common vaccinations, and many had unvaccinated children in the family, and that the state’s requirement could endanger the health of children as well as spread disease to the community.
Despite the law, many schools in the state have opted out of vaccinating students.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Michael Easton pictured at the World Wildlife Fund Gala in 2009
It’s a trend which appears to be growing in states across the country as schools have more control over which students get vaccinated.
“Every state should have clear, open and transparent policy to allow parents to decide for themselves whether or not to vaccinate their children. That’s the American way,” Krista Ellingson, from the anti-vaccination group, BackPack, said in March.
“Forcing these vaccines on children and failing to use parent consideration to save lives in the health-care system is part of a larger assault on personal freedom.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption General Hospital has also lost actors Monica Raymund (left) and Brandon Barash (right) since the March mandate
Democratic representative, Matt Ritter, co-sponsored the bill.
He defended his position, saying that it was about children’s well-being rather than the right to immunise children.
“We know that vaccines provide benefits to children, and by empowering parents to make the decisions that are right for their children, it prevents them from having any side effects that may occur from the vaccinations,” he said in the annual legislative session last year.
“We also know that there are severe side effects, and that’s why we have complete exemption for parental non-compliance.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption House Majority Leader Matt Ritter introduced the bill
Efforts to override the bill proved unsuccessful, with some voicing concerns about the lack of federal legislation, and others not having children attend school.
“We have parents willing to lie, cheat, and steal to keep their child from receiving the immunisation,” the Connecticut ACLU’s head of state, Cora Bush, told The New York Times in March.