QCOSTARICA – Conscientious objection cannot be alleged in the offices of public institutions for a worker to oppose being vaccinated against Covid-19 and therefore, a fine equivalent to one month’s salary (around ¢460,000 colones) will be applied against anti-vaccines, as well as the start of an administrative process.
Meanwhile, in the private sector, employers could fire people who oppose receiving the vaccine without employer responsibility, that is without benefits.
And it is that the right of conscientious objection, which consists of not being forced to act against the most deeply rooted convictions of the internal jurisdiction, has its limits in the matter of public health.
Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court or Sala IV as it is more commonly known has already recognized the importance of vaccination as part of essential health care, which must guarantee the fundamental right to health of all people and secondly, the protection of public health and the prevention of diseases according to Eric Briones, doctor and professor in labor law, to refer to the public sector in a column in La Republica.
“The compulsory nature of vaccination is nothing new in the country, since 1888, Costa Ricans have stipulated in the field of private law, a rule that indicates the material / legal impossibility of refusing to vaccinate when this is mandatory,” added Briones.
The clarification becomes relevant at a time when being vaccinated against Covid-19 will be mandatory for all public officials, at the same time, that in the private sphere, employers will be able to fire workers who refuse to be protected from this Friday, October 15.
And when, on December 1, a vaccination certificate will be mandatory to enter restaurants, sodas, cafes, food courts, bars, shops, and shopping centers, museums, gyms, casinos, accommodation establishments, business and social event rooms, adventure tourism, theaters, cinemas, academies of art and artistic activities, among others.
In that sense, the Law of Protection of the Person against the treatment of their Personal data, would not be above the right to public health either.
“Asking a worker if he or she is vaccinated involves handling sensitive information; However, it would be possible to collect this information if requested in order to prevent Covid-19. The information would be confidential and for internal use,” said Daniel Valverde, Partner specialist in Labor Law at ECIJA Legal.
In this sense, if a worker refuses to be vaccinated, the employer could apply the dismissal without benefits.
To do this, the private sector worker should first be warned in writing and then provided a reasonable period of time to be vaccinated. Failing, the dismissal can take place.
In the case of the public sector, the government announced on Tuesday that fines and the possibility of opening administrative processes will be applied.
Mariela Castro, Legal Services Manager at KPMG, explained that as part of the mandatory scheme, in principle, the Costa Rican legislation establishes that people cannot refuse to be vaccinated, due to public health and occupational safety aspects.
Consequently, “under the previous foundation, employers can establish the obligation of this vaccine to all their personnel or part of them (depending on whether they have greater or lesser exposure to the virus), as a way of ensuring the health of their personnel and the service provided,” said Castro.
To date, Costa Rica has applied almost six million doses (5,921,089 according to the data from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) as at October 11, 2021, against Covid-19.
In its most recent report, the Central American Population Center (CCP) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), reported that the contagion rate or “R” rate of reproduction of COVID-19 fell below the threshold of “1”.
For the beginning of this week, the contagion rate of COVID-19 in Costa Rica is 0.86, reducing with respect to the rate of the previous week, which was around 0.91.
According to the CCP, these data show that “the manifest trend of the R rate is downward since around August 21. This trend has been maintained and rates have usually been oscillating between 0.9 and 0.85 ”.
He also explained that as the “R” remains below 1, the epidemic curve of cases and hospital occupancy could fall in numbers.
The reproduction rate “R” indicates the average number of new people who are infected by each already infected patient, during the entire time that the virus is contagious in their body.
If the rate is higher than R = 1, it means that each generation of cases is replaced by a larger one, that is, the number of infected individuals increases over time and the outbreak is active.
Due to the persistence of the R rate around values lower than unity, the CCP indicated that “the country continues to decline to culminate the pandemic wave.”
Luis Rosero, demographer in charge of this report, explained that “the critical factor for the decline has been the advance of vaccination, which first stopped the increase in R caused by the rapid penetration of the delta variant of the virus and, later, is reducing the amount of infections that each infected person generates ”.