Editor’s note: While this was considered in early 2019, it has not been implemented as of June 2020. Original story follows.
Starting in July 2019, foreigners who apply for temporary or permanent residency in Costa Rica will need to comply with the country’s national vaccine program, according to a report from the daily La Nación.
The Health Ministry and Immigration Administration are reportedly finalizing the requirements, which are meant to bring foreign residents into compliance with Costa Rica’s General Health Law (Ley General de Salud).
That law stipulates Costa Ricans must receive vaccines against measles, rubella and mumps (MMR), tuberculosis (BCG), Hepatitis B, influenza, tetanus and diphtheria, among others. The rotavirus and HPV vaccines were recently added to the list.
The Tico Times has reached out to the Health Ministry for confirmation of La Nación’s report. We’ll update this story when we receive a response.
The new law would come just months after multiple members of an immigrant family residing in Cóbano, Puntarenas, contracted measles. The Health Ministry said the infected children had not been vaccinated by their parents, who are United States citizens.
In Costa Rica, vaccinating children is “an obligation” for their parents or guardians, who face sanctions from the Ministry of Children and Adolescents (PANI) if they refuse to comply with the law.
“The General Health Law (Ley General de Salud) sanctions parents or guardians who oppose this vaccination,” the organization said in a press release. “PANI can intervene through the Court of Childhood and Adolescence, since the most serious complications are blindness, pneumonia and brain inflammation and in some cases, death.”
As a result of that law and of numerous public health campaigns, Costa Rica has among the highest vaccination rates in the region. According to The World Bank, 96% of Costa Rican children ages 12-23 months are vaccinated against measles, compared to 92% in the United States.
As a result, there had been no reported cases of measles in Costa Rica since 2014, until it was reintroduced by an unvaccinated, foreign family.