Costa Rica Vaccines & Travel Advice

 

Travel clinic for Costa Rica
Travel health and vaccine advice for Costa Rica
 
 
 
The wild paradise of Costa Rica offers travelers Nature in all its splendour! Lush jungles, lunar-like volcanic craters, mangrove forests, stunning mountain peaks, mighty waterfalls, paradise deserted beaches, tropical islands… The Central American country displays an amazing array of landscapes, home to an astonishing biodiversity. With its stunning hikes, world-class surf spots and amazing diving sites, Costa Rica is a haven for adventurers. The natural beauty of the country is only equaled by the kindness of its multicultural population. Costa Rica is an overly peaceful nation, where the local expression “Pura Vida” (the Pure Life) takes on its full meaning.

What vaccines do I need for Costa Rica in 2021?

The Government of Canada and the CDC recommend the following vaccines for travelling to Costa Rica in 2021: MeaslesHepatitis ATyphoidHepatitis BRabies, Flu, COVID-19.

HEALTH ADVICE FOR TRAVEL TO Costa Rica

We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, travel health and safety risks in Costa Rica can change daily.

For the most current travel health recommendations for Costa Rica, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.

COSTA RICA – RECOMMENDED VACCINES

Yellow Fever

A proof of vaccination against yellow fever may be required upon entry into Costa Rica.

Some travellers may not be eligible to receive this vaccine. Please enquire with your health care professional regarding your specific details.
It is important to note that the vaccine should be administered at least 10 days prior to your departure.

For further information, please consult with the World Health Organization (WHO) website:
https://www.who.int/ith/ith-country-list.pdf

Hepatitis ARecommended for all travelers.
Tetanus – Diphtheria – Pertussis Vaccine

Tetanus: In exceptional circumstances (eg, stay in a region where access to health care is limited), for a person aged 18 years or older, 1 dose of DT may be given if 5 years or more has elapsed since the last dose.
Otherwise, one booster dose at the age of 50*.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough):  1 dose is recommended for pregnant women, for every pregnancy, regardless of immunization history and the interval since the last dose (between week 26 and 32).

*Only applicable for Quebec.

Measles – Rubella – MumpsTwo doses recommended for all travelers born after 1970, if not previously given.
CholeraFor humanitarian workers and health care providers.
Flu – InfluenzaSeasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing or by touching infected surfaces. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine yearly. Vaccine is recommended 14 days prior to departure.
Routine vaccines (dCaT, Polio, Meningococcal, Shingles, Pneumococcal, Hepatitis B, HPV, MMR & Varicella)Recommended for all travelers
Typhoid FeverRecommended for most travelers, especially those who are staying with friends or relatives; visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water; or prone to “adventurous eating”
Hepatitis BConsider for most travelers; recommended for those who might be exposed to blood or other body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
African Tick Bite FeverCould be present. All travellers should protect themselves against tick bites.
RabiesFor travelers at high risk of animal bites or being involved in activities with bats, dogs and other mammals. Clients who plan to visit remote areas may consider receiving this vaccine. Important to note the pre-exposure rabies vaccine is administered in 2 doses with one week interval between doses. Post-exposure vaccination is always recommended, even for those previously vaccinated.
Chagas DiseasePresence. All travelers should protect themselves against triatomine bugs.
Traveler’s Diarrhea (ETEC)Talk to your health care professional about the risks and precautionary measures to take, as well as the Dukoral® vaccine. Important to note that the Dukoral vaccine is an oral vaccine given in 2 doses, recommended at least 2 weeks prior to departure.
Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and/or Zika

There are many illnesses that are transmitted via mosquito bites and unfortunately we do not have vaccines to protect us against most of them. It is important to inquire with your healthcare professional regarding the specific risks and the different illnesses presently in circulation.

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RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS FOR TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA

Antibiotics for Traveler’s DiarrheaCiprofloxacin, Azithromycin or Suprax.
Acetazolamide/DexaméthasoneRecommended if trekking at Chirripo Grande (3820 m.).

FOOD AND WATER-BORNE DISEASES IN COSTA RICA

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Costa Rica, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Costa Rica. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

  • Travellers’ diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers’ diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.

INSECTS AND ILLNESS IN COSTA RICA

In some areas in Costa Rica, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus, and Zika virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

There is currently a risk of chikungunya in Costa Rica. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

  • In Costa Rica, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round.  It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.

Zika virus is a risk in Costa Rica.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to Costa Rica. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to Costa Rica.

Travel recommendations:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to Costa Rica for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Women: Wait 2 months after travel to Costa Rica or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
  • Men: Wait 3 months after travel to Costa Rica or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.

For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers

MALARIA IN COSTA RICA

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in Costa Rica.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

ANIMALS AND ILLNESS IN COSTA RICA

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

PERSON-TO-PERSON INFECTIONS IN COSTA RICA

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

MEDICAL SERVICES AND FACILITIES IN COSTA RICA

In Costa Rica, some very well equipped private hospitals can be found in San Jose, the capital city. The Clinica Biblica Hospital and the Cima Hospital are two of them. These medical establishments offer high quality health care. They have emergency services accessible 24 hours a day, as well as intensive care units, surgical departments, maternity services, medical imaging equipment, and pharmaceutical services. Outside of the capital city, access to quality health care can be limited. 

Costa Rica has decompression chambers at some beach resorts, including in Liberia and Samara, to treat scuba diving complications.

In case of emergency, call 911. You can also contact the Red Cross ambulance service at 128 or 221-5818. They are usually fast and efficient, but may not have emergency equipment on board, especially in rural areas. Private ambulances are better equipped. You may have to pay in advance for medical services.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

MEDICATIONS IN COSTA RICA

Local pharmacies, such as Fischel, are well stocked and sell quality pharmaceutical products. Most of the drugs used in the Canada are available in the country. But it is always safer to bring your own medical kit.

All medication must be transported in its original container and have a clear label. Prescription and controlled medication must be accompanied by a prescription from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery and include the medication’s generic name.

KEEP IN MIND…

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres

SECURITY IN COSTA RICA

The rate of drug-related violent crimes is on the rise in Costa Rica. Drug trafficking is common. Local drug use, including crack, is a major concern.

Read More »

Emergency services in Costa Rica

Dial 911 for emergency assistance.