Lessons on Immunity & Aging: Belmont Village Senior Living Hosts Expert Roundtable on COVID-19 Vaccinations & Boosters

In the essential educational webinar, “Lessons on Immunity: How Our Immune Response Changes as We Age,” Belmont Village Senior Living stresses the critical need for education and awareness on the importance of vaccines and boosters for aging adults. CEO and Founder of Belmont Village, Patricia Will, led the discussion with world renowned, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the leader of Texas Children’s Hospital’s Center for Vaccine Development, and Dr. Carla Perissinotto, Professor and Leading Clinician of Internal Medicine for the Elderly at University of California San Francisco’s medical school.

Will, who in January of last year received the COVID-19 vaccine alongside her 91-year-old father, says, “Most people, myself included, are not strangers to immunizations, as we took a battery of shots as small children at the behest of our parents so they could protect us against terrible diseases—even deaths. And yet, the topic of immunity against COVID-19 and other diseases has become a lightning rod of controversy in the U.S., with many not perceiving COVID-19 vaccines in the same realm of importance as those given to us as children. Our vaccine science is advanced, long-tested, highly effective, and safe. Moreover, boosters, whose efficacy in promoting immunity has been proven for decades, are especially important, particularly for seniors.”

Having battled some of this century’s most deadly diseases, including COVID-19, Dr. Hotez is developing a low cost, recombinant protein vaccine that will be used as a standalone vaccine, a pediatric vaccine, and booster. In the webinar, he shares his expert insights on how the immune system and vaccines work, delving into the variety of COVID-19 vaccines available, their efficacy, the safety of “mixing and matching” boosters, and their vital importance. Dr. Hotez explains how the immune system fights infection and why vaccine immunity can wane over time. He emphasizes the importance of COVID-19 boosters, which provide a 20-fold rise in the COVID-19 virus-neutralizing antibodies to halt viral replication, making the immune system more durable and lasting for months or years.

Dr. Perissonotto addressed immunity for aging adults, the impact of COVID-19, and what this population can do to stay healthy during the pandemic. “As we get older, our immune system is not as precise as it is when we’re younger or when we’re in our middle years. And so, our response to infections becomes inelegant—it’s delayed, but then when it takes effect, those effects are extreme, which is why we see severe COVID symptoms. That means that we need this extra immunity to protect ourselves against infection and survive it—like younger people. Vaccines prime the adaptive immunity to recognize these viruses before they come in full force and try to push the body to make antibodies so that if we do get an infection, we don’t get this massive response, over inflammation, and end up critically ill,” says Perissonotto.

A key lesson from the pandemic, according to Dr. Perissonotto, is to consider older adults and how their health needs are different. This consideration is at the heart of why Belmont Village Senior Living continuously engages with top-of-field experts like Dr. Perissinotto and Dr. Hotez—to ensure their protocols, developed from the most current understanding of the coronavirus in the eyes of scientists, experts in medicine, and C.D.C. guidelines, keep Belmont Village residents, their families, and staff informed and protected.

“At Belmont Village, we consider it our mission to bring the best information from the smartest people in the room—so to speak. I am deeply appreciative of Dr. Hotez’s and Dr. Perissonotto’s commitment to caring for senior health and educating our beloved residents, their loved ones, and our fantastic staff about immunity and COVID-19,” adds Will. “At Belmont Village, we have always prioritized science and medical research and incorporate what’s learned directly into our communities and culture. As a result, we have successfully ensured that across 30+ communities, 100% of employees and residents who can receive the vaccine, including new hires and new residents, are vaccinated.”