Deadline reported that, after four seasons on the hit television show 9-1-1, actor Rockmond Dunbar has decided to exit due to COVID-19 protocol and vaccine requirements.
Dunbar’s character Michael Grant, shook viewers as he was abruptly taken off the show on Monday night’s episode.
Sources told the outlet that Dunbar’s departure comes after increased COVID-19 protocols on the show, which mandates that all actors be vaccinated.
Dunbar requested a medical exemption and even sought a religious exemption that was both reviewed by Disney, who produces the show and ultimately rejected.
In a statement to the outlet, Dunbar confirmed his reasoning for leaving the show.
“I applied for religious and medical accommodations pursuant to the law and unfortunately was denied by my employer,” he said. “My sincerely held beliefs and private medical history are very intimate and personal aspects of my life that I do not publicly discuss and have no desire to start now. I’ve been an actor in this business for 30 years, but my greatest roles are as a husband and father to our four small children. As a man that walks in faith, I look forward to what the future holds.”
Dunbar added, “I have enjoyed the last five seasons with this wonderful cast and crew and will cherish the time I’ve been blessed to spend with this series and wish everyone involved nothing but the best. “
In response to the actor’s departure, Disney TV Studios’ 20th Television said, “We take the health and safety of all of our employees very seriously, and have implemented a mandatory vaccination confirmation process for those working in Zone A on our productions. In order to ensure a safer workplace for all, Zone A personnel who do not confirm their vaccination status and do not meet the criteria for exemption will not be eligible to work.”
As increased COVID-19 protocol occurs, TV studios are expected to begin strictly enforcing vaccination mandates, requiring shots for everyone in Zone A of their series, including cast and crew members who engage on-set with them to be vaccinated.