Rory Nairn’s parents say their son has been abandoned by health authorities.
In findings released Tuesday, coroner Sue Johnson ruled that the 26-year-old Dunedin plumber died in November 2021 as a result of myocarditis caused by the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
It is the second death caused by the vaccine, according to a coroner.
The inquest learned that the pharmacist who vaccinated him did not know that myocarditis could be fatal and had never warned him about the condition.
His parents, Brett and Chris Nairn, have spoken out for the first time about what happened to their son.
They said a woman’s death last August from myocarditis should have been treated with more urgency, but instead authorities seemed more concerned about creating vaccine hesitancy.
“The memo that went out after Rory’s death made a good warning about it and I think that should have happened after the woman’s death, especially given the information coming from international sources that matched that there were problems with the vaccine and myocarditis,” Brett Nairn said.
“There was so much information coming out for the pharmacists to go through — it was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Chris said.
“Why didn’t they bring it to the attention? It should have been something important, a certain urgency.’
Myocarditis is rare after vaccination, with international data showing one to 13 cases per 100,000 vaccine doses.
The rare condition is caused by many things, including a viral infection, and about 95 people with myocarditis are seen in hospitals in New Zealand each year.
It is also treatable, with better results detecting and addressing the earlier symptoms.
Brett believed his son would be alive today if health authorities had placed more emphasis on the potential danger of myocarditis.
“Rory could still be alive and I think if he had known what those symptoms were and realized he was really suffering from myocarditis and it was serious he probably would have just gone to the doctor and it would have been fine. Or maybe he wasn’t, it’s all in retrospect,” he said.
“The messages on the website, which I remember, was that it was mild and extremely rare. I know it has shifted to rare now that there is more evidence of myocarditis now than there was then. But the message is still safe Rory was a trader and I worked with him when we were working on his house at the time and every five minutes there were ads on the radio ‘Get your vaccine, get your vaccine, safe and effective, safe and effective’ just absolutely continuous off the airwaves pumped and how can something be considered safe if it can kill you?”
This week’s coroner’s findings had only confirmed what the couple had known since being called to Rory’s house early on Nov. 17, 2021, after he collapsed as he prepared to go to hospital over his concerns about heart fluttering.
Brett said he was happy to see the cause of death recognized by the coroner, but the trial had felt hollow to him.
Chris said the situation still felt unreal.
“It’s all still sinking in,” she said.
“We’ve just had the examination, we’ve just had Rory’s birthday, the findings are coming out, we’ve got his birthday coming up. So I haven’t given myself a chance to really let that sink in because the outcome for us is the same — Rory’s gone.”
The couple did not receive the Covid-19 vaccine due to doubts they had about the medication.
It had created tensions in the family before Rory’s death due to his upcoming wedding and the commotion imposed when unvaccinated guests were allowed in.
Chris had to end her 22-year career in early childhood education just two days before Rory’s death due to the vaccine mandate.
That was all exacerbated after his death, Brett said.
“The morning Rory died, I called my brothers . . . and told them what had happened. They are in Auckland and Chris has informed her family that none of them could attend the funeral in Dunedin because of the trip. A few of them certainly tried and applied for waivers, but they couldn’t get them,” he said.
“It wasn’t considered serious enough — burying someone who died from the vaccine — to be exempted from that travel restriction.”
The couple had also struggled with the coronary process that followed Rory’s death.
Brett described it as dehumanizing.
“It’s a very narrow process. So it doesn’t look at the broader context, which is really important to us – what’s happening with myocarditis in terms of the vaccine in New Zealand and globally? Is there a greater incidence? We would consider those questions as extremely relevant to the case, but it’s just looking at Rory.
“We all came away from the process quite unhealthy. We didn’t think it was healthy or a healing process.”
They were not present on the third day of the inquest.
It was partly about making a statement about their feelings about the process, but there was also a practical side to the decision.
“We had limited resources,” Brett said.
“There were eight lawyers there and most of them were on the payroll – they all get huge pay. The pharmacy’s lawyers were paid by the pharmacy, but we had to pay for our lawyers – there was no legal aid.
“It’s a bit of a boot in the guts to be honest.”
The trial didn’t feel like it was about Rory, Chris said.
“I just thought the whole process was about shedding the buck. Everyone gave it back to the next person higher, higher, higher and then it all comes back to the pharmacy,” she said.
“I think people should take responsibility, not shift that responsibility onto others. How about standing up and saying, ‘Yeah, we failed here. We could have done better’.”
But the couple had no ill will towards the pharmacist or vaccinator involved.
“They were just doing what they were trained to do or asked to do,” Chris said.
“If things had been marked as important or urgent they would have picked that up, but in the barrage of information they were given it was missed. And I don’t think many vaccinators would have made people aware of the risk of myocarditis.” .
“They’re just doing their job there. They don’t mean to harm you.’
Most importantly, Brett and Chris wanted Rory to be remembered for the life he led – a life of hard work and play. A life of family, love and adventure.
Rory was an avid hunter and fisherman. He loved his rugby and his diving.
Chris and Brett said their son lived a full life and had a future full of promise.
Coroner Sue Johnson’s initial findings related only to the cause, time and location of Rory’s death.
She would make further findings at a later date about the circumstances surrounding his death and whether to make any recommendations or comments.