Why Vanna White Had to Miss 5 Episodes of “Wheel of Fortune” Just Weeks into Pat Sajak's Final Season

Last month, White reached a deal to return to the show through the 2025–26 season

<p>Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty</p>

Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty

Even someone as glamorous as Vanna White needs a sick day occasionally.

During Wheel of Fortune’s 2023 Teacher’s Week, which was filmed in August but is airing this week, the co-host, 66, had to step away from the show's iconic big letter board while she recovered from COVID-19.

Host Pat Sajak addressed her absence at the start of Monday’s episode.

"You'll notice Vanna is not here, and I have to say that Ms. White has tested positive for COVID. That's the bad news,” Sajak, 76, told the audience. “The good news is I talked to her just a little while ago and she feels fine. She has a little sniffle. But she tested positive and that's the way it goes, so she will not be with us here this week."

Related: Vanna White Is in 'Negotiations' to Remain on 'Wheel of Fortune' Hosted by Ryan Seacrest (Source)

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Teacher’s Week episodes couldn’t be rescheduled because the teachers had already arrived in Los Angeles to film over the summer when White got sick. However, production paused filming of regular episodes the following to allow White time to recuperate.

Last month, White reached a deal with Wheel of Fortune to extend her contract for two additional years, meaning she will continue on the syndicated game show through the 2025–26 season. As a result, White will work alongside Ryan Seacrest when he takes over hosting duties from Sajak next fall.

<p>Ricky Middlesworth/ABC via Getty </p>

Ricky Middlesworth/ABC via Getty

Sajak, who started on the show in 1982, announced in June that the current 41st season of Wheel of Fortune will be his last. The next month, Sony Pictures Television confirmed Seacrest, 48, as Sajak's replacement beginning in the fall of 2024.

Seacrest told Willie Geist in September that he felt “very excited” to work with White.

“This is such great news,” Seacrest said on the Today show’s "Sunday Sitdown" segment of White reaching a deal with Wheel. “Vanna has been such a staple on that show and in our living rooms for so many years. I have been very excited to work with her, but now that it's official I can say, 'Congratulations Vanna! I can't wait.'”

<p>Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty</p> Ryan Seacrest on a May episode of 'American Idol.'

Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty

Ryan Seacrest on a May episode of 'American Idol.'

While speaking to PEOPLE the same month, Seacrest admitted he had some concerns about stepping into Sajak’s role next year.

“I'm sure I will get nervous jitters,” the American Idol host told PEOPLE in September. “The show has been a staple for people and myself and my family forever. And so you just want to walk out there and do what's been happening for so many years and not screw it up.”

Related: Ryan Seacrest Says He's a ‘Kid in a Candy Store’ After Landing 'Wheel of Fortune' Gig (Exclusive)

Despite all the changes going on at the show, White told PEOPLE in December she wasn’t ready to leave Wheel of Fortune behind.

"I don't even want to think about that," she said, adding, "I mean, [Pat and I] we're a team."

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Wheel of Fortune airs weekdays at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.

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