Monday 2 October 2023

Covid-19 vaccine, the new ‘American dream’ of thousands of Costa Ricans

Hundreds of Costa Ricans crowd flights to the U.S. to get vaccinated against covid-19

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QCOSTARICA – The promised vaccine … so easy, so close, so viable for some and so impossible for many … here perfectly applies the adage “fly for your life!” And that is what hundreds of Costa Ricans are doing.

The Juan Santamaria (San Jose) in “full bustle” on Friday, May, 14, 2021. An unthinkable image about 10 months ago, when the air terminal was deserted. Photo Yuri Lorena Jiménez

They are those, who, more than the economic expense involved in the trip, basically depend on having a U.S. visa to try to ensure their health and even save their lives.

It sounds dramatic, but we all know that it is.

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The Revista Dominical section of La Nacion, published the unusual experience of Marcela Herrera, scientist, Rafael Murillo, business administrator and Edgar Omacell, civil engineer, being part of the group of Costa Ricans who traveled to Dallas, Texas, to receive the covid-19 vaccine.

Thus, a feeling of relief and yes, joy is felf among those who have had this tremendous opportunity, once inoculated with the long-awaited covid-19 vaccine, but immediately and permanently with their hearts set on Costa Rica and on their families and friends, exposed in what seems to be the darkest peak of the pandemic since March of last year.

Right in the middle of the relentless escalation of cases and deaths from covid-19 that the country is experiencing, a couple of weeks ago, Yuri Lorena Jiménez, in her report, says she received an invitation from Viajes Colón to accompany the three on one of the vaccination tours to the United States that this travel agency, like several others, began to carry out as soon as mass and free vaccination was enabled for locals and foreigners in the United States.

Texas was one of the first states to open mass, free vaccination to non-Americans. Photo Dallas Star

“On Friday, May 21, Costa Rica precisely, ended one of the most difficult weeks of the last 14 months, as I had witnessed stories of well-known people – even of several colleagues – who were fighting the disease, and in some cases, there were those who did, they either lost or saw a loved one die in the midst of pain and helplessness”, writes Jiménez.

“Also in recent months, we have witnessed more and more cases in which the virus manifests itself in close friends, acquaintances, and even relatives, something that did not happen during the first months of the pandemic, almost all of last year. Today – honestly, in my case, terrified – due to the characteristics of my work I have received first-hand testimonies about the bloody struggle that hospitalized patients wage, not to mention when they arrive at the end, in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” she added.

The young reporter saw relief when suddenly the possibility opened up for her to accompany one of the many groups of Ticos who are traveling to various cities in the United States “in order to narrate the dynamics”, but also, of course, to access the free vaccination offered by the first city to protocolize the vaccination of foreigners, Dallas.

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“From minute one, before coordinating the coverage with the newspaper’s headquarters, until the moment of writing these lines, I confess unequivocally that contradictory feelings invaded me, mixed, if you will, even bittersweet. Later I would learn that almost most of my colleagues from “Let’s get vaccinated”, the travel agency’s slogan at this juncture, had exactly the same mixed feelings, including several other Costa Ricans who were also in the beautiful city north of Texas who said the same thing: a combination of personal relief and sadness at the bad news about the onslaught of the virus in our country,” recalls Jimenez.

The cost to get vaccinated abroad offered by Viajes Colon is around US$1,000 “all inclusive” per person. An amount similar promoted by other travel agencies.

The journalist said that “for her”, the strange bittersweet sensation was magnified at times because she had lived two previous precedents in flights crowded with Costa Ricans, in the literally called “plane of the Ticos”, both charter flights that transported a good part of national soccer fans to the World Cups in Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014.

“I had the immense satisfaction of integrating the direct flights full of compatriots maddened with happiness who traveled to Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014, of those wonders that this beautiful profession of journalism has inherited from me,” I wrote on my social networks shortly before leaving for Dallas, last Friday, May 14.

One of the big surprises during the trip was to discover that all pharmacies and supermarkets already sell the home test to detect covid. It costs $20. Many of us brought several, for that. Photo La Nación
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“Today, once again, my work places me on a new plane in which more than 40 Costa Ricans are traveling to Texas,” writes Jimenez, but in a situation that was unthinkable until recently: “this time we are, perhaps, more united and hopeful than ever, in pursuit of the anti-covid vaccine.”

The journalist confessed of her mixed feelings, “because the suffering that we have witnessed in recent weeks, with the rise of contagions and also deaths daily, drain my soul.

“But hey, here we go to Dallas, apart from the personal tranquility when getting the vaccine, it gives me a chill in my heart to know that we will contribute in the search for the long-awaited herd immunity and in not becoming another burden for the hospitals. That is faith,” said Jimenez.

Pioneer state

Texas became one of the first states to legalize and protocolize vaccinations for non-residents. Hence, several Costa Rican travel agencies began this new business adventure in Dallas which, among other great advantages, has direct daily flights to and from Costa Rica.

For all the well-known reasons, the fact of not making a stopover implies less “fuss”, fewer lines and less contact with other people, conditions that most are currently looking for in order to minimize the risks of contact with covid-19 while traveling.

The longed-for moment of receiving the vaccine was provided, for me, with a bittersweet feeling: personally happy, but sad for the rest of the population who will have to wait in the midst of the tremendous peak of infections and recent deaths. Photo La Nación

You can read the “tell all” of Jimenz’s new to get vaccinated in the United States at Revista Dominical here.

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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