Costa Rica mandated Covid-19 vaccines for children. But not everyone’s on board

Inside the St. Vincent de Paul Hospital in Costa Rica’s Heredia province, not removed from the capital San Jose, the argument — over the nation’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate — got here to blows final week, resulting in the arrests of seven folks.

But this struggle proved more consequential than for simply the folks concerned: The incident compelled authorities to briefly shut the hospital’s doorways, marking a darkish second within the nation’s struggle towards the pandemic and highlighting the talk round its necessary vaccination coverage.

Last November, Costa Rica grew to become the primary nation on this planet to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for minors, with all kids 5 and older required to get vaccinated, barring medical exemptions.

More than 91% of individuals between the ages of 12 to 19 have acquired at the very least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in response to the newest authorities information, however vaccinations for youthful kids have stalled — with simply 12% of kids 5 to 11 to this point having acquired one dose.

A survey printed by the Pan-American Health Organization in October discovered that almost 94% of the Costa Rican inhabitants considers it “important that all people get vaccinated against Covid-19.” In the identical survey, 89% of oldsters stated they’d vaccinate their kids who’re 12 or youthful.
And many seem to agree with the mandate.
One research by the University of Costa Rica’s School of Statistics discovered that 75% of respondents stated they supported the vaccination mandate for folks 18 and older, with assist dropping together with age teams; 69% of individuals agreed with a vaccine mandate for 12-17-year-olds, whereas 59% had been supportive of the measure for kids between 5-12.

Still, a small, but vocal group of oldsters — like those that encircled the hospital final week — are opposing the measure, catapulting the talk round necessary vaccines onto the flooring of Congress.

People take part in a demonstration against the Covid-19 vaccination mandate for children in San Jose, Costa Rica, in January.

The assault in Heredia unfolded after a six-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital for a respiratory downside, in response to the hospital’s director, Priscila Balmaceda Chaves. When the attending physician realized the kid was not vaccinated, he informed the kid’s father that he would wish to take action. Under the mandate, a baby can get vaccinated even when their mother and father do not consent, nonetheless that course of is not instantaneous, in response to public well being professional Roman Macaya Hayes, who heads the Costa Rican Social Security Institute.

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Angered that his little one is perhaps vaccinated with out his permission, the daddy — together with six others — went all the way down to cease it, in response to officers. That’s when the fist struggle broke out.

Congressional President Silvia Hernández Sánchez known as the group a “mob, angered by foolishness,” whose violent actions “put both staff and patients at risk,” with Costa Rica’s public safety minister asking the courts to “apply the full severity of the law.”

Hayes informed CNN that defending the well being of a kid is equal to stopping little one abuse, because the outcome is identical: making certain the wellbeing of minors.

He defined that necessary vaccination is backed by laws, together with legal guidelines that assist the “constitutional right to life and, therefore, health.”

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“The collective good supersedes the rights of the individual,” Hayes stated.

Not all lawmakers agree — though they, too, seem like within the minority.

One of probably the most vocal of these objectors is impartial lawmaker Erick Rodríguez Steller, who has known as the mandate “nonsense,” saying that it leaves Costa Rica below a “sanitary dictatorship.”

While Rodríguez says that he does not condone the violence that came about on the Heredia hospital, he stated that the daddy had each proper to stop his little one from getting vaccinated.

Rodríguez expressed his opposition to the mandate in congress final week, saying that “the state shouldn’t be in the business of deciding how we raise our children.”

He later informed CNN that he has been vaccinated, that he believes in science and that he’s not an “anti-vaxxer” — even when native media alleges the daddy of the boy on the middle of the controversy is.

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Rodríguez stated that he believes there has not been sufficient info round dangers of vaccines for kids — and that he and others who’re against the mandate simply wish to discover out the “truth” about any potential dangers.

Studies world wide have concluded that the Covid-19 vaccines are protected for kids, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending them for kids ages 5 and older.

And in Latin America, Cuba, Chile and Argentina have been operating profitable little one vaccine campaigns for months.

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Still, governments world wide have largely shied away from necessary vaccinations, opting as an alternative for incentives to inspire folks to get pictures.

Even in authoritarian states, together with China — the place vaccines are authorized for kids from the age of three — they’re not necessary. That tide may very well be handing over Europe, nonetheless. On Friday, Austria grew to become the primary European nation to impose a vaccine mandate on its grownup inhabitants.

Some say the mandates are testing the boundary between public well being and civil liberties, including to tensions between those that are vaccinated and those that are not.

Rodríguez, the impartial legislator, stated he does not absolutely rule out supporting a mandate, however that it will need to have the consensus of congress.

“When it comes to restricting rights and liberties, you have to go through the Legislative Assembly, and here, health authorities have ignored us,” he stated.

Hayes insists the mandate is not about limiting liberties, however making certain the general public good, particularly when there is a vaccine that has been confirmed protected and efficient world wide.

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“Let’s keep alive the Costa Rican tradition of believing in vaccines, believing in science and believing in doctors who are treating patients with their best interest in mind, because these vaccines save lives,” he stated.

Djenane Villanueva in San José, Costa Rica contributed to this report.

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