Last month we reported that Disney, ABC and “General Hospital” was “following the science,” seemingly installing a vaccine mandate for the soap’s entire cast and crew, according to tweets made by “GH” actress Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis).
Grahn didn’t outright state that a mandate was put in place at the time, saying only, “Thank you @valentinifrank, Dominick Nuzzi, @Disney & @ABCTV for following the science and taking ALL possible measures to ensure the safety of the entire @GeneralHospital cast and crew. Very grateful to be working with all of you. Today is a good day for #GH.” Yesterday, however, she stated very publicly that not only has the show mandated its staff to be vaccinated but that it is the only daytime soap opera to have done so.
“I am very proud to work on the ONLY Daytime Soap that has required that all performers, staff and crew be vaccinated. @GeneralHospital continues to lead with integrity,” she commented on Twitter.
Across social media, some soap actors have become vocal about their being against a vaccine mandate (emphasis on mandate), particularly Grahn’s fellow cast member Ingo Rademacher (Jasper “Jax” Jacks). The actor received a lot of pushback on his stance which led to a writeup on Deadline (“Covid Controversy Checks In To ABC’s ‘General Hospital’ When Cast Clash Over Vax Mandate”), an industry trade, that later got the attention of several industry insiders, particularly “Law & Order: SVU” showrunner Warren Light, who said on August 28 in response to the Deadline article, “No actors or crew should have to work with unmasked, unvaccinated actors. Period.”
A few days after posting, Light responded to a tweet by a Twitter user who uses hashtag #MAGA on her Twitter profile, and said of Rademacher, “He has a right not to get vaccinated. Our cast and crew have a right not to work alongside people more likely to get and transmit Covid.”
Grahn responded to Light’s tweet, saying, “So true. There was also several more he’s and she’s who chose not to be vaccinated. Only one said it aloud.”
On September 15, Light noted, “‘SVU’ will not hire unvaccinated actors or background actors. That’s our policy. If that helps you decide to get vaccinated, good.”
Former soap actress Chrishell Stause (“All My Children, “Days of our Lives”), who currently moonlights on Netflix’s “Selling Sunset,” said in response to Light’s initial tweet, “Please help us @sagaftra bc when we are on set filming, no masks are worn-no distance. Vaccine or maybe current positive anti body results should be required if needing to work in these conditions.”
SAG-AFTRA is the union representing actors, or who it says are “the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world.” Currently, the union, along with the DGA, IATSE, Teamsters and Basic Crafts unions are working under the Return to Work agreement first initiated jointly with the AMPTP in September 2020.
Initially set to expire on September 30, 2021, the agreement was later extended and remains in place through at least October 31, 2021. On the stance of mandatory vaccinations, it’s stated under the protocols that “Producers may in their discretion implement policies requiring that current and prospective employees in Zone A, studio teachers and others who come into close contact with minors be ‘fully vaccinated’ as a condition of employment where permitted by law. The Teamsters will make best efforts to ensure that fully vaccinated drivers are available for vehicles that convey cast.” Zone A is one that comes into close proximity with actors working on sets where wearing a face mask is not expected while filming.
The protocols further state that when a mandatory vaccination policy is in place, “A producer that has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy may only require a prospective employee to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether any of the following is true: The prospective employee is fully vaccinated or has a sincerely held religious belief or disability that would prevent them from becoming fully vaccinated. The offer will be conditioned on verification of (i) fully vaccinated status or (ii) disability or sincerely-held religious belief and a determination, after engaging in the legally-required interactive process, that the disability or sincerely-held religious belief can be accommodated without undue hardship.”
On a set that has no mandatory vaccination policy in place, “the producer may not inquire about vaccination status until after an offer of employment is made, but may thereafter require the employee to verify vaccination status prior to commencement of employment, including at the time of a pre-engagement test, provided that the offer is not contingent upon vaccinated status.”
As for how to verify vaccination status of a performer, crew, or a staff member, “Producer shall require individuals to provide one of the following types of proof of vaccination:
- A digital vaccination card maintained by a government, vaccination provider or verification service that checks against government records;
- Production or upload of a physical vaccination card or copy of a physical vaccination card;
“Producer must maintain any documentation of vaccination status securely and available only to those with a need to know.”
With some of the soaps now allowing close contact, including kissing and simulated lovemaking, it would appear that most casts, crews and personnel are indeed vaccinated. Only “General Hospital,” however, appears to have mandated the vaccine in any official capacity.
You can read more about what protocols are in place by clicking here, or watch an information session discussing the policies below.