Last Updated: October 22, 2021
We have been hearing from a lot of people who are planning trips this winter and holiday season. They are wondering what’s going on with Covid in Costa Rica and what to expect for the future. In this post, we’ll let you know how Covid vaccinations are going in Costa Rica. We’ll give current vaccination numbers and resources to stay up to date.
Covid in Costa Rica – Background
As of late-October, Costa Rica is coming off a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. New cases and hospitalizations have decreased dramatically in the past few weeks. The government is attributing this to increased vaccination rates.
We have a whole post dedicated to Costa Rica’s Covid current numbers, Costa Rica and the Coronavirus. We update the article every day, Monday through Friday, when the government comes out with new data. You can refer to that article for more information.
Covid Vaccine Rollout in Costa Rica
The government started administering vaccines at the end of 2020 but didn’t start its public vaccination campaign until early 2021. The country was off to a somewhat slow start due to a lack of supply. Costa Rica didn’t start getting significant amounts of vaccine until mid-year.
Costa Rica has contracts with Pfizer-BioNTech and Astra Zeneca. It is also part of the COVAX alliance.
Costa Rica also has received donated vaccines from other countries such as the United States, Canada, Spain, and Austria.
The majority of the vaccine supply is Pfizer-BioNTech.
The government created a priority system for Covid vaccinations due to the limited supply.
Group 1 is health care workers, first responders, and staff at nursing homes.
Group 2 is older adults (ages 58 and up).
Group 3 is people ages 16-57 with a preexisting condition/risk factor. These include hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, asthma, obesity, etc. [Note: Costa Rica later opened this up to starting at age 12 for children with preexisting conditions once the Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids.]
Group 4 is teachers and certain public employees.
Group 5 is the general population with no risk factors (everyone else).
Within those groups, appointments were initially given based on age. So, for example, in Group 3, they started with ages 50-57 and didn’t do lower ages until they had a certain percentage of the older group vaccinated.
Delaying Second Shot
Costa Rica vaccinated Groups 1 and 2 following the standard recommended timeframe between doses (21 days).
However, starting with Group 3 (risk factors group), they spaced out doses by 12 weeks. The idea was to get more people one shot, similar to what some European countries have done.
Since only a small amount of the population falls within Groups 1 and 2, this has somewhat delayed full vaccination rates.
Current Vaccination Rates in Costa Rica
As of October 22, 69.7% of the total population has had at least one dose. 49% is fully vaccinated.
Of the target population (ages 12+), 83% has had one shot and 59% has had two.
This is according to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) website. The CCSS is Costa Rica’s public healthcare system. It is in charge of administering the vaccine along with the Ministry of Health.
Among older adults (age 58+), 94% has had one shot and 92% are fully vaccinated.
For ages 40-57, 89% has had one shot and 72% are fully vaccinated.
For ages 20-39, 83% has had one shot and 46% are fully vaccinated.
For ages 12-19, 64% has had one shot and 27% are fully vaccinated.
In October 2021, Costa Rica opened up vaccine eligibility to all children ages 12-18 without preexisting conditions.
Background – Speeding up the Rollout
In July 2021, Costa Rica started receiving large vaccine shipments. At that point, it opened vaccination up to everyone age 40 and older.
It started with a mass vaccination effort. The goal was to apply 500,000 doses that the United States donated between July 16-25, 2021. Doses were still spaced out by 12 weeks, but anyone within that age group could get their first shot.
In the following weeks, they dropped it to 30 years old. Now, it is open to anyone ages 12 and up. An appointment is no longer needed. You can just show up at a local public clinic.
Importantly, in late August, they changed the time between doses to eight weeks for ages 30-57. This is because of the surge in the Delta variant and increase in hospitalizations.
What this means is that many of those people in Group 5 (general population group) who got their first dose in late July or August, just got their second shot or will be getting it soon. This will make the rate for full vaccination go up quite a bit in the coming months.
Costa Rica also did another big vaccination campaign in September. Local hospitals and clinics across the country were open 7 am-7 pm every day of the week.
Staying Up to Date
We will update this post regularly with current vaccination numbers. But if you’d like to follow this day to day, the CCSS has updated information on their website.
Although there is some vaccine hesitance in Costa Rica, overall, it is minimal. Costa Rica has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world in general. We expect it to have a high Covid vaccination rate as well.
The government is really pushing people to get vaccinated on the news and social media. They have been having mass vaccination campaigns in public spaces like malls and vaccinating by car in some areas, in an effort to get more people to come out.
Covid Vaccination Requirements in Costa Rica
Currently, anyone can travel to Costa Rica. If you are not fully vaccinated, you just need to purchase specific travel insurance that covers Covid.
For more information, check out our post, Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Entry Requirements, Protocols, and What to Expect.
Citizens and Residents
Covid vaccines are not specifically required for Costa Rican citizens or legal residents. However, in September, the government made the vaccine mandatory for all public employees as of October 15, 2021. Private employers may require it as well.
In addition, the government announced that a vaccine passport would begin on December 1. This will require people to have a QR code to enter certain businesses like restaurants and shops. Our post, Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Entry Requirements, Protocols, and What to Expect, has more information.
The government has not addressed if Covid vaccinations will be required to enroll in school in Costa Rica. Students are required to be current on all standard vaccines, though. This is taken very seriously. Here is a link to a detailed article with Costa Rica’s legal requirements on vaccinations.
The Costa Rican government has contracted with Pfizer to provide pediatric vaccines in 2022 for children ages 2-11.
Can Tourists Get the Vaccine in Costa Rica?
Previously, only legal residents could get a Covid vaccine in Costa Rica. However, the government did a campaign in October allowing anyone over age 18, regardless of immigration status, to get vaccinated.
If you are a resident, you need to show your DIMEX. Some CCSS clinics (called EBAIS) also are requiring people to show that they are signed up in the CCSS system. Here is a link with more information.
Costa Rica has been working hard to get its population vaccinated against Covid and has made great strides so far. We hope that by the end of this year, enough of the population will be fully vaccinated so that things can get more back to normal.
Last Updated: October 22, 2021
Have a question about Covid vaccination rates in Costa Rica? Ask us below.
Looking for more information about traveling to Costa Rica during Covid? Check out these posts.
Costa Rica and the Coronavirus: Get detailed, current info on Costa Rica’s current Covid numbers and restrictions.
Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Learn about the health pass you’ll need to fill out and details about travel insurance requirements.
Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica: If you need a Covid test to get back home, this post gives the testing sites throughout the country.