The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) says it is in talks with the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjeria (DGME) – immigration service for the latter to consider requesting compliance with the national vaccination program when granting residency to a foreigner.
The director of Health Surveillance, Rodrigo Marín Rodríguez, confirmed that they have already raised the need with the DGME.
The request is made following the confirmation of more measles patients in the country.
So far, the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa) – Costa Rican Institute for Research and Education in Nutrition and Health – has confirmed two cases, the two boys aged 7 and 9, of an American missionary couple who have been living in the country, in Cabuya de Cóbano, Puntarenas, for the past two years.
Two other children in this family are classified as highly suspected of having the virus, but they are waiting for laboratory results, which should be available today (Friday).
This American couple has nine children between one and 17 years of age and none are vaccinated, neither do they attend school, public nor private.
None of the other five children have shown any indication of being infected, however, the entire family will remain isolated in their house, guarded by personnel from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Health. They will be under isolation until April 4.
The children infected (and suspected of being infected), apparently, contracted the measles from a missionary woman from Oregon, United States, who was in Costa Rica visiting the family for 15 days, and moving through several communities of the Nicoya Peninsula and Limón, in the Caribbean coast.
Law requires vaccination of minors
Director Marín said that those who reside in the country must comply with national legislation, which, among other things, requires the vaccination of minors.
Costa Rica cannot demand the vaccination, in this case of measles, as a requirement for tourists, said Health Minister Daniel Salas Peraza. However, those who want to be temporary or permanent residents in the country should comply with the national legislation on this matter.
“The law is clear: everyone who resides in Costa Rica has to comply with the law. And the Ley General de Salud (Health Law) says that whoever resides here has to have the complete vaccination. That is a reality, ” said Marín.
A month ago, a family of three French tourists who visited Santa Teresa de Cóbano, brought to Costa Rica the measles virus after five years without the country registering an imported case.
It is worth mentioning that there is no epidemiological relationship between these four new cases and the French family.
Minister Salas stressed that there is no alarm, the cases will not cause a measles epidemic in the country, because of the high vaccination coverage that exceeds 90%.
The Ministry of Health, reported in conjunction with the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, continues with the surveillance protocol that is implemented in this type of case, making field investigations to investigate possible contacts in the family’s residence, reviewing vaccination schemes and applying the vaccine when required.
So far 54 contacts have been vaccinated, among relatives and health personnel who have been in contact with the missionary family.
“We would like to reiterate to the population the need for caregivers to ensure the health and well-being of their children, making sure they have their complete immunization,” said Minister Salas, who pointed out that measles was the fifth disease to be eliminated from the Americas, following smallpox (1971), polio (1994), and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (2015). In all five cases, the Region was the first in the world to achieve elimination.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that has reemerged strongly throughout the world. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected when he or she travels internationally.
Costa Rica does not present autochthonous cases of measles since 2006.
The Ministry of Health began last December 12 a national vaccination campaign, investing US$1 million to protect 770,000 children between 15 months and 10 years of age, against Measles. The program was in two phases, the first was concluded on February 8, while the second phase began at the start of the school year on February 11 and will end on March 31, 2019.