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Vaccine distribution outside of GAM to begin next week

January 5, 2021

Costa Rica next week will begin administering coronavirus vaccines outside of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), the Health Ministry reported.

As of Sunday, January 3, some 2,455 Costa Ricans had received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Of those, 30% are workers or residents at elderly homes; 68% are healthcare workers with the Social Security System (Caja); and 2% are health workers from the private sector and other first responders.

Twenty-seven health establishments — all in the GAM, which includes San José and surrounding cities — are conducting vaccinations for at-risk groups.

“These health areas will coordinate in advance the list of people to be vaccinated in long-stay homes and first response institutions that are located in their area of ​​assignment,” the Health Ministry said.

In January, Costa Rica expects to receive 33,150 doses per week of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. All CCSS facilities should receive the vaccine by the end of the month, though areas outside the GAM present logistical challenges due to the necessity of using ultra-low-temperature freezers.

CCSS studies two vaccine reactions

Two people in Costa Rica have suffered adverse reactions after receiving the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, though both recovered and are in good health.

The first person, a worker at the Children’s Hospital, suffered an allergic rash on the chest and head. In previous years, she had experienced allergic reactions to the influenza vaccine.

The second person, a health worker in Carmen Montes de Oca, experienced temporary inflammation near the injection site.

Both officials recovered without complications and are in good health and no longer have any symptoms,” the Health Ministry announced. 

The most common reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are fever, headache, and localized inflammation.

Costa Rica’s vaccine priority

The priority for vaccination in Costa Rica is as follows:

  • Staff and residents at retirement or nursing homes.
  • First responders, including health personnel.
  • Costa Rica’s older population, defined here as those ages 58 and up.
  • People with risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, kidney disease and obesity, among others.
  • Teachers and other staff within the Education Ministry (MEP).
  • Imprisoned people and judicial staff.
  • Workers for the 911 service.
  • Health science students and related technicians in clinical fields.
  • People ages 40-57 without any of the aforementioned risk factors but whose work puts them in contact with others. This includes laborers in agriculture, construction, service industries, etc.

President Carlos Alvarado and other high-ranking government authorities will receive the vaccine in accordance to where they fall in the above prioritization list. Minors will not be vaccinated.

The vaccine will not be obligatory, authorities have said.

Citizens and residents who fall into one of the priority populations should ensure their contact information is current at their local public-health clinic (EBAIS). The vaccine is free.

“It is important that they come on the date and place that their health area communicates,” the CCSS says.

Authorities have not announced if or when a coronavirus vaccine would be available for purchase at private health centers and/or pharmacies.

Costa Rica and Pfizer-BioNTech have an agreement for 3 million doses of the vaccine, enough for 1.5 million people. The Central American country also has a deal with AstraZeneca and is a member of the COVAX facility.

Costa Rica hopes to vaccinate 80% of its adult population by the end of 2021.

The latest Covid data

See the below graph for the latest Costa Rica coronavirus updates:

If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available. Visit the Costa Rican Presidency for the official list of coronavirus measures and alerts. 

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