Costa Rica has become the first nation in the world to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for children. Parents face sanctions – and potentially, forced jabbing of their kids – if they don’t comply.
The coronavirus jab has been added to a list of childhood vaccinations, obligatory under the law, the nation’s Health Ministry announced on Friday. The National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission (CNVE) has declared immunization against the virus to be mandatory for all minors under 18.
Parents in Costa Rica might now face unspecified sanctions if they do not vaccinate their children against Covid-19 starting from 2022. Previously, if Costa Ricans refused to vaccinate their children against such diseases as measles as part of the compulsory immunization program, they were reported to the Health Ministry, according to the local media. The ministry then initiated a ‘special legal procedure’ for the minors to get a shot without their parents’ consent.
It is unclear whether the same scheme will apply with the Covid-19 vaccine, but it has been added to the so-called ‘basic list’ of jabs that includes immunization against chickenpox, polio and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Teenagers over 15 will also be able to get their Covid-19 shots without the need to be accompanied by an adult.
The ministry did not mention the minimum age for vaccination, only noting that the US Food and Drug Administration Agency authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged between five and 11.
The authorities have promised to purchase all the needed shots for children under twelve by 2022. Last month, Costa Rica struck a deal with Pfizer that would see an additional 3.5 million vaccine doses delivered to the Latin American nation. At least 1.5 million doses from this batch would be reportedly reserved for minors.
Costa Rica greenlighted the vaccination of teenagers over 12 years old in October, and some 73% of Costa Ricans aged between 12 and 19 received at least one Covid vaccine dose by November 2, according to the nation’s Social Security Fund.
Starting from January 8, 2022, Costa Ricans will be required to present proof of complete vaccination to enter various public places, including hotels, restaurants, bars, museums and gyms. Only 54% of the population have been fully vaccinated so far, according to the government data.