San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Brazil 2014

Going to the Brazil World Cup? Get your vaccines first

Local fans planning to support Costa Rica’s National Football Team, known as “La Sele,” next month in Brazil must comply with a health requirement for vaccines against yellow fever and measles.

The Amazon region is at risk for the spread of yellow fever, a disease eradicated in Costa Rica more than 80 years ago. According to international health regulations, yellow fever vaccinations are required for all travelers at least two weeks before their departure from Costa Rica.

The vaccine is not required to enter Brazil, but it is mandatory for all travelers arriving in Costa Rica from that country. Most airlines and travel agencies already are asking for vaccine certification before selling air tickets to the South American country.

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 will be held in 12 Brazilian cities from June 12-July 13, meaning that all those traveling from Costa Rica should obtain vaccination certificates by May 30.

Vaccines can be purchased at any drugstore, but the vaccination certificate only can be obtained at the Health Ministry. National Director of Immunizations Roberto Arroba explained that certificates can be issued at any Health Ministry office across the country by presenting the vaccination receipt from the drugstore.

Yellow fever is a disease that affects multiple body systems and is potentially lethal. It is caused by a hemorrhagic virus transmitted through mosquito bites, similar to dengue, explained Gustavo Lazo, a physician with the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, which distributes the vaccine in the country.

“Yellow fever diagnosis is difficult, especially in its early stages. Symptoms are very similar to influenza: yellow skin or eyes, bleeding in various parts of the body, failures of liver, kidney, respiratory systems and other organs,” Lazo added.

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Vaccination against yellow fever cannot be applied during pregnancy and lactation, nor to people with fever, allergies to any component of the vaccine or to patients with malfunctioning immune systems.

The Social Security System, or Caja, also warned World Cup travelers to get vaccinated against measles after a recent outbreak caused more than 100 cases in Brazil, according to the Pan-American Health Organization.

Measles is a highly contagious disease with symptoms that include fever, conjunctivitis, cough, and spots inside the mouth, among others.

The last four cases of measles in Costa Rica were recorded in 1999: The first two patients were infected abroad and the others were related to the first two.

The Caja applies the measles vaccine to all elementary schoolchildren.

The Health Ministry’s phone number is +(506) 2223-0333 and its website is here.

Contact L. Arias at

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