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Monday, May 23, 2022

More than 15,000 Costa Ricans got vaccinated abroad

At least 15,000 Costa Ricans traveled abroad for a Covid-19 vaccination, the Health Ministry reported.

The figure is based on a survey sent by the Health Ministry to citizens and residents who traveled internationally between March 1 and June 9, 2021. Across the 75,000 voluntary surveys sent to this population, 15,712 people affirmed they had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine outside of Costa Rica.

The vast majority (92%) reported having received a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.

Just under half (48%) of Costa Rica citizens and residents who received a vaccine abroad opted for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson formula. Pfizer/BioNTech, the primary vaccine used in Costa Rica, was the second most popular option:

VaccineNumber of people
Johnson & Johnson7,542
Pfizer6,659
Moderna1,280
AstraZeneca152
Sinovac61
Sputnik V14
Sinopharm3
Data via the Health Ministry.

“Vaccine vacations” to the United States were a popular option earlier in 2021, when Costa Rica was still limiting jabs to the elderly and people with preexisting health conditions. Since mid-July, however, Costa Rica has launched mass vaccination efforts and expanded eligibility to nearly all adults.

Currently, any citizen or resident aged 20 or older can schedule their Covid-19 vaccine in Costa Rica.

But earlier this year, several tour agencies in Costa Rica offered vaccine travel packages to the United States. They were pricey —  this one was $1,600 — but included airfare to the U.S., a hotel stay, and transportation to and from the vaccination site.

This was possible because many U.S. states do not ask for proof of residency when administering Covid-19 vaccines. In addition, the United States has a surplus of vaccines, and Covid-19 vaccine providers in the U.S. cannot charge individuals for the vaccine.

While vaccine vacations to the United States are not illegal, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned they are “a symptom of the inequality in the distribution of vaccines in the Americas.”

Costa Rica has administered more than 3.4 million vaccine doses across 2.57 million people. It received a donation of 500,000 Pfizer vaccines from the United States last month.

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