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The Big Take

Covid Can Make Kids Very Sick. Why Aren’t More Being Vaccinated?

Children have to get vaccinated for less urgent threats—and it works. So why not with Covid?

Melissa and Cam O’Hara at home in Cary, N.C.

Melissa and Cam O’Hara at home in Cary, N.C.

Photographer: Peyton Sickles for Bloomberg Businessweek

One afternoon in May, Michael Joseph Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, strides in baseball-patterned socks through a Duke University facility in Durham, N.C., to welcome Cameron O’Hara, a 14-year-old vaccine trial subject. Smith has been acting as co-principal investigator at one of the sites that’s been testing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in kids since last winter. O’Hara and his mother have come to the office following the “unblinding” process—in which he’d learned, to his disappointment, that he’s been getting a placebo—to get his first dose of the real thing. He crosses his sneakers and grips his mom’s hand as the needle goes into his arm.

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