CRC Daily: Costa Rica will begin COVID-19 vaccinations today

The first shipment of vaccines arrived Wednesday night.

Costa Rica will begin vaccinations against COVID-19 today after a shipment of 9,750 doses arrived Wednesday night. In doing so, the country becomes among the first in Latin America to begin immunizations.

"This is positive news for our country, because it may be the beginning of the end of this pandemic," President Carlos Alvarado said during Wednesday’s announcement.

The first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines will be applied to health personnel and the elderly. Each person will need two doses, 21 days apart.

Costa Rica expects to receive about 10,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine each week. The country has an agreement for 3 million doses of that formula, enough for 1.5 million people.

While the vaccine is not required, Costa Rica has high immunization rates and hopes to protect 3 million people by the end of 2021. This represents 80% of Tico adults, including everyone with COVID-19 risk factors.

Those who fall into one of the priority groups for inoculation will be contacted by Costa Rica’s public-health system (Caja). Individuals should call their local EBAIS to confirm their contact information.

The vaccine is free.

Costa Rica announces more restrictions

Rising COVID-19 hospitalizations led authorities to announce restrictions beginning on New Year’s Eve.

  • On New Year’s Eve: There will be a national driving ban starting at 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Non-essential commercial businesses must close at that time.

  • From Jan. 1 through Jan. 3: There will be a national driving ban starting at 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. on those nights. Non-essential commercial businesses must close at that time.

  • From January 4 through January 31: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive on Saturdays; vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive on Sundays.

The traditional list of exceptions to the driving restrictions still applies. This includes rental cars and people driving to hotel reservations. The full list is here.

Finally, from January 4-17, beaches will close at 2:30 p.m. daily; bars and casinos must limit capacity to 25%; and national parks must limit capacity to 50%.

On Wednesday, Costa Rica reported 2,065 total COVID-19-related deaths. There are 634 people hospitalized, including 239 in intensive care.

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