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Cafecito con el Doctor: Everything you need to know about the children’s COVID-19 vaccine

Cafecito con el Doctor: Everything you need to know about the children’s COVID-19 vaccine

Editor’s Note: This Q&A was adapted from Calle 24’s Nov. 6 episode of Cafecito con El Doctor, live at 24th and Capp streets, where UCSF Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Mitul Kapadia discusses the recent approval for the children’s vaccine ages 5 to 11 and answers questions regarding the booster shots. To listen to this conversation in its entirety, visit Calle 24’s instagram page at @calle24_sf. And if you have any questions, send them to

What is the difference between the adult vaccine and the kids vaccine? 

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So the biggest difference between the children’s vaccination and the adult is the amount of vaccinations. So kids are getting about one-third of the Pfizer vaccination that adults are, and that’s because kids are smaller. They don’t require as much in order for them to have a good immune response and it also creates much less side effects. This is so exciting that we can get our kids vaccinated and get over this pandemic. 

What are some of the side effects that the kids can have from the vaccine? 

The side effects from the vaccination are very similar to the flu shot. So we can have some soreness of the arms, we can sometimes feel a little bit tired and maybe have a fever. But those symptoms should last maybe about a day. You can use Tylenol or Motrin, and then they should be ready to go and ready to get back to their normal activity. So that’s what we anticipate for the majority of kids. 

You said that you’re going to bring your kids here. We would like to know why you decided to get them vaccinated?

I am so excited. My 5 year-old and my 7 year-old are going to get their vaccinations today as well. It’s the most important thing we can do to get over this pandemic. We know that the rates of infections in kids has been increasing and we’re seeing it every day in the hospital. And so this is our chance now to protect our children, to allow them to go to school safely, to be able to get back to their normal activities, once we can get our kids all vaccinated. So this is a huge day, and I can’t encourage you more to get your kids vaccinated. Es mas importante. 


We also know that the Booster vaccination has been approved. Why is it important to get the booster vaccination? 

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I am also going today to get my booster shot, so I’m excited to get my Moderna booster. What we’ve learned as we have been looking at the vaccinations is that over time, particularly after 6 to 8 months, the protective effect decreases a little bit from all of the vaccination: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna. So getting your booster builds up your immune system again and gets your body ready in case you get exposed to the virus. So it’s really important that everyone that’s eligible, particularly our elderly and particularly people that have immunocompromised systems, or work in places where there’s a lot of potential exposure, protect themselves and protect their family and friends. And the best way we can do that is by getting her kids vaccinated and those that are eligible, getting your booster shot. 

For example, if I got Johnson & Johnson and then I come here to Capp and 24th streets and they have the Pfizer booster, is it OK to combine two different brands?

It is completely fine to combine any of the brands: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna. And that’s something also that was studied to make sure that it was safe and that it also protected folks. And from all these studies, the CDC and the FDA have learned that it is actually just as effective, sometimes even more effective. So we definitely want all of our folks that are due for a booster to be open to any booster that’s available. But the most important thing is to get that shot. And I would say to folks who got Johnson & Johnson initially, what we know is that if they’re able to get a Moderna or a Pfizer booster, it’s even more important and more helpful for their immune system. That combination in particular for the people that started with Johnson & Johnson is important. 

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