A family from Steinbach has filed a Statement of Claim against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca after their son received a stroke shortly after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

On March 23, 2021, Marina Reimer received what she refers to as a “life-altering” phone call from her son. Twenty-one-year-old, Jackson Reimer was calling his mother to let her know that he suddenly could not see anything and that his head felt like it was exploding. Jackson, who his parents refer to as a healthy young man, was experiencing spontaneous right occipital intracerebral hemorrhage, also known as a hemorrhagic stroke and extremely low platelet count.

Six days earlier, Jackson had received his AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19, at Whistler Blackcomb BC Conference Centre. The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by Health Canada on February 26, 2021. Jackson received the vaccine as part of Vancouver Coastal Health’s plan to protect workers where outbreaks and clusters had occurred or was occurring. At the time, Jackson was living in staff housing while employed at Whistler Blackcomb, BC.

On March 24, 2021, one day after Jackson’s stroke, Health Canada changed the AstraZeneca vaccine to add information about further risks with the vaccination while still reassuring Canadians that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continued to be safe and effective at protecting them against COVID-19 and encouraging people to get immunized with any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada.

Then on March 29, 2021, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended provinces pause the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on those under the age of 55 because of safety concerns.

“AstraZeneca should never have been approved by Health Canada,” says the Reimer family, in a statement.

According to his parents, the stroke and subsequent craniotomy, caused Jackson to be legally blind with a severe cognitive brain injury and memory loss. His parents, Perry and Marina say they did not have much time or energy that first month after the stroke, to focus on what caused the stroke and his low platelet count. His parents were absorbed with Jackson’s healing, staying positive and just making it through each day. Then, 10 days after the stroke, Jackson’s father suffered a heart attack at Vancouver General Hospital. The Reimers say the heart attack was brought on by the stress of the situation.

Jackson was eventually transferred to Manitoba where he spent three months rehabilitating at the Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg, in the Acquired Brain Injury Program. The Reimers say it was during that time, and over the course of the next year, that comprehensive testing determined that the AstraZeneca vaccine was the most likely cause of Jackson’s stroke.

“There are many others who can relate to having adverse effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine,” the Reimers say in their statement. “We can only speak to our experience, and it has been a journey we don’t wish on anyone.”

Their Statement of Claim lists the many symptoms that Jackson exhibits on a daily basis. His parents say that he is aware of the symptoms that he struggles with and is working hard at managing them, as much as his brain injury allows him to. They say his healing will be ongoing throughout his lifetime.

“We refuse to put a limit on what he can accomplish,” the statement says. “Jackson will continue to require support, and of course transportation, for all his therapies, medical appointment and daily life activities.”

Jackson Reimer was discharged from Riverview Health Centre on July 22, 2021.Jackson Reimer was discharged from Riverview Health Centre on July 22, 2021.

The Reimers say that Health Canada, as the federal regulator, carries a significant responsibility to complete due diligence on the medicines and vaccines to protect the safety of Canadians. The statement says that AstraZeneca, Verity Pharmaceuticals, Vail Resorts and Vancouver Coastal Health, need to take accountability for releasing the AstraZeneca vaccine before it was fully tested and for not providing information about the risks and potential side effects to enable us to make informed decisions about our health.

“We put our lives in their hands,” reads the statement. “Our governments used fear and persuasive marketing to encourage the vaccination. The well-known marketing ‘the first vaccine is the best vaccine’ was not the case for Jackson. The first vaccine was the wrong vaccine.”

The Court of King’s Bench with Manitoba Justice has confirmed that a Statement of Claim has been filed in the Civil Division. The plaintiffs are Jackson Reimer, Marina Toews Reimer and Perry Reimer. The defendants are AstraZeneca Canada Inc., Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc., Vail Resorts Inc., Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Attorney General of Canada.

As of March 20, 2023, a total of 97,667,909 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Canada. As of February 26, 2023, a total of 2,812,857 AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in our country.

According to the Government of Canada, blood clots with low levels of blood platelets that occur after vaccination with viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/COVISHIELD and Janssen Jcovden) are rare but serious. It says these serious side effects have been reported to begin up to about a month after vaccination. According to the government’s website, quick diagnosis and treatment are critical to reducing the risk of negative outcomes.

Any Canadians who feel they have experienced a permanent or serious injury as the result of receiving a vaccine authorized by Health Canada can file a claim through the Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP).  This is for vaccines administered in Canada on or after December 8, 2020. As of December 1, 2022, there have been 1,299 claims filed through VISP.

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CBC did cover the story.

Manitoba family suing AstraZeneca after son’s stroke following COVID-19 vaccination

Family says they believe hemorrhagic stroke in 2021 was caused by the vaccine

A close-up of a pharmacist's hands injecting a vaccine into a person's arm.
A statement of claim filed in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench this month is seeking damages after a family alleges their son had a stroke days after getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. (Colin Butler/CBC)

A Manitoba family is suing AstraZeneca Canada, alleging their son had a stroke following his COVID-19 vaccination that has left him unable to work or care for himself.

Jackson Troy Reimer, now 23, was “in excellent health” before getting vaccinated while working at the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia in 2021, according to a statement of claim filed in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench on March 16.

But six days after getting his shot, he started feeling dizzy, losing his vision and having severe headaches. A CT scan at Vancouver General Hospital found Reimer had a hemorrhagic stroke, the lawsuit says.

He later needed two platelet infusions, then underwent a craniotomy to stop bleeding in his brain and had to be intubated after becoming unresponsive — all outcomes Reimer and his parents, Marina Dawn Toews Reimer and Perry John Reimer, believe were caused by the vaccine.

“The plaintiffs claim that the stroke, the craniotomy and all symptoms arising from them were caused as a result of Jackson having been administered the AstraZeneca vaccine or Covishield,” the court filing says.

No statements of defence have been filed. None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

Blood clot concerns

The family is also suing Vail Resorts, which runs the ski facility where Jackson Reimer worked.

The lawsuit alleges the company emailed employees on March 15, 2021, and recommended those living in staff housing get the AstraZeneca shot at their first opportunity.

A group of skiers gather together at a ski resort.
A 2021 file photo shows the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia, where Jackson Troy Reimer worked. The family is suing the company that runs the resort. (Eric Foss/CBC)

The same day as that email, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the shot was safe and Canadians should have no concern about getting it, after roughly a dozen European countries suspended its use over concerns about blood clots.

Two weeks later, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended pausing use of the vaccine in people under age 55 because of safety concerns.

That change came following reports out of Europe of very rare instances of blood clots in some immunized patients, notably among younger women.

The lawsuit also names as defendants the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the attorney general of Canada and the Ontario-based Verity Pharmaceuticals, a manufacturer authorization holder for the Covishield vaccine, which is the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca shot.

Anne Génier, a spokesperson for Health Canada, said in a Wednesday email the agency has just been made aware of the claim and is reviewing it.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority spokesperson Jeremy Deutsch said in an email the authority has no comment on the matter, as it is before the courts.

The suit alleges the defendants deprived Reimer of his right to informed consent and negligently misrepresented the vaccine by failing to inform him of all the possible risks associated with the shot and by continuing to provide it, in spite of some adverse reactions.

Canada confirmed its first case of a rare but potentially fatal blood clot in connection with the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 13, 2021.

The national vaccine committee said a month earlier the condition occurred at a rate of about one in 100,000 people vaccinated, with a mortality rate of about 40 per cent, but that more research was needed and risk was reduced if treated early enough.

The lawsuit also claims Health Canada’s promotional slogan “the first vaccine is the best vaccine” was false.

“For Jackson, the AstraZeneca vaccine and/or Covishield was not the best vaccine. Other vaccines were both safer and more effective,” it says.

Lasting effects of stroke

Since March 2021, Reimer has been unable to hold gainful employment, advance his university education or carry out many activities of daily living, the court filing says.

He’s now legally blind and has other symptoms related to mental focus and concentration, memory loss, mental impairment and obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies, according to the claim.

Reimer also has physical symptoms including brain seizures, excessive weight gain, and impaired bowel function and control, the lawsuit says.

His symptoms, which are expected to continue indefinitely, are so severe that Reimer is unable to live alone and requires ongoing assistance with daily activities, the claim alleges. It also says his parents have been unable to work their regular hours due to their son’s care demands.

The family is seeking damages for Reimer’s injuries, loss of income and costs of care.