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Covid-19 vaccine to be mandatory for children in Costa Rica: Health Ministry

The Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory for minors in Costa Rica, the Health Ministry announced Friday.

“In safeguarding the principle of the best interests of boys, girls and adolescents, and taking into account that since March 2021 the vaccine against Covid-19 is part of the official basic vaccination scheme, the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission (CNVE) ratified that immunization against Covid-19 is mandatory for all minors,” the Health Ministry announced.

Costa Rica has long mandated vaccines, and such requirements are supported by the country’s laws.

Per Article 150 in the Ley General de Salud

Vaccination and revaccination against communicable diseases determined by the Ministry is obligatory. Exceptional cases, for medical reasons, will be authorized only by the corresponding health authority.

“In our country, the vaccines included in the basic table established by the CNVE are compulsory for minors, including those against chickenpox, polio, more recently against the Human Papilloma Virus incorporated in 2017 and this year the incorporation of immunization against Covid-19,” the Health Ministry added.

Costa Rica is currently vaccinating all citizens and residents ages 12 and older, and a fully vaccination scheme will be mandatory to enter many businesses starting January 8, 2022.

According to information from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, nearly three-quarters of the country’s 12-to-19-year-olds have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines for younger children, and Costa Rica is expected to homologate that approval.

Last month, Costa Rican leaders announced the purchase of 3.5 million additional Covid-19 vaccines that will be administered to children and the elderly in 2022.

Vaccination an ‘obligation’ for parents

Inoculating children in accordance to national guidelines is “an obligation” for parents, according to the Child Welfare Office (PANI).

“It is an obligation of fathers, mothers and adults to take children […] to be vaccinated,” said the former Minister of Children and Adolescents, Patricia Vega Herrera. “This is to fulfill the right to health and the duties of protection and care.”

PANI says that in 2018 it received more than 14,000 children whose parents or guardians did not adequately provide for their health. That includes children who were not vaccinated.

“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.”

That law stipulates Costa Ricans must receive vaccines against measles, rubella and mumps (MMR), tuberculosis (BCG), Hepatitis B, influenza, tetanus and diphtheria, among others.

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