Catt Sadler contracted a rare breakthrough case of COVID-19 after being vaccinated against the virus. “I’m fully vaccinated and I have COVID,” Sadler revealed in an Instagram post featuring a photo of herself sick in bed—and a PSA reminding people that we are still in a pandemic. “If you are vaccinated, don’t let your guard down,” she wrote.
The former E! correspondent is urging her vaccinated followers to continue to exercise caution and mask up as the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus, now predominant in the U.S., continues to spread. “I’m telling you this so that you understand that the pandemic is very much NOT over,” Sadler explained. “Delta is relentless and highly contagious and grabbed ahold of me even after getting vaccinated.” Sadler is also telling her unvaccinated followers that even though the shots are less than 100% effective at preventing all COVID-19 illnesses, people should still get the vaccines to protect themselves and those around them from severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Sadler shared that she got the virus from somebody who was not vaccinated. Sadler was taking care of this person, who at the time she believed was sick with the flu. Even though Sadler took precautions around this individual, like wearing a mask, she later learned that she contracted COVID-19 from the invidiual. “I did come into close contact with the virus, but I wore a mask, and again I’m fully vaccinated. I assumed I would be fine,” she wrote. “Well I’m not.”
While Sadler admits she’s “no M.D.,” she said she is “here to remind you that the vaccine isn’t [fool]proof.” Sadler added, “Vaccines lessen the likelihood of hospitalization and death but you can still catch this thing.”
Breakthrough cases are very rare but expected. As of July 6, there have been 5,186 breakthrough COVID-19 infections in people who were hospitalized or died reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 988 deaths. That’s out of 157 million people who had been fully vaccinated by that date. And recent CDC data suggest that 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths over the past few months have occurred in unvaccinated people.
The currently available COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalizations in clinical trials, and so far have shown similar rates of efficacy in the real world. Among people who do experience breakthrough infections, there is “some evidence” that their symptoms will be less severe, according to the CDC. (In Sadler’s case, her symptoms are “not mild.” They include a fever, throbbing headache, severe congestion, and severe fatigue. “No energy to even leave the bed,” she wrote.)
While variants “will cause some vaccine breakthrough cases,” the CDC says, the data so far suggests that vaccinated people should still receive significant protection. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently said that booster shots are not currently necessary because the vaccines are quite effective against variants. Public health experts will continually reevaluate the evidence on vaccine efficacy against variants as the data continue to roll in.
Sadler’s takeaway message for her vaccinated followers is to “continue to protect yourselves” and wear a mask in certain situations. “If you’re in crowds or indoors in public I highly recommend taking the extra precaution of wearing a mask.” Currently, the CDC masking guidelines say that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most scenarios—except for public transit, health care settings, and where required by local laws. (Experts are split on recent guidance from the World Health Organization for vaccinated people to wear masks as delta spreads.)
And as for those who are still not vaccinated? They are liable to contract the virus and spread it to other people, Sadler emphasized. “If you are not vaccinated and not wearing a mask, I assure you you don’t want to feel like this and not only are you bound to get sick eventually you’ll be spreading it to others,” she wrote, “as in my case.”