QCOSTARICA – At 9:12 pm Wednesday, December 23, the first batch of vaccines against covid-19 landed in Costa Rica, on a flight DHL flight from Belgium.
These are the first 9,750 doses of the drug developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Next week 11,700 more doses, with the rest of the three million doses arriving starting in January.
The Boeing 757-27A plane that left Belgium, made a stopover in Miami, Florida, United States and then landed at Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela (SJO), and was met by President Carlos Alvarado, the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, the president of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), Román Macaya, the president of the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE), Alexander Solís, and the Minister of Security, Michael Soto.
Costa Rica becomes the first country in Central America to receive vaccines against covid-19 and the second in Latin America, after Mexico.
These first vaccines come at a critical moment when the health system announces high occupancy of beds available in intensive care and more than 2,065 deaths associated to the coronavirus.
Start of the vaccination program
The Presidency reported that this Thursday morning, at around 10:00 am, there will be a symbolic vaccination of two seniors from a long-stay home, as well as the rest of the residents of the center, who are in the first priority group.
At the same time, a symbolic vaccination of two members of the health personnel who work on the first line against SARS-CoV-2, also in the first priority group. The vaccination will take place at the CEACO – Centro de Atención Especializado para pacientes con COVID-19 (Specialized Care Center for patients with COVID-19).
“The arrival of these first doses fills us with hope, but that does not mean abandoning prevention measures, we need to make a greater effort to protect vulnerable people,” said Health Minister Daniel Salas from the tarmac of the San Jose airport.
In total, Costa Rica purchased three million Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines for 1.5 million individuals.
As explained by President Alvarado and Minister Salas, the six million doses needed to vaccinate the three million people who urgently need it will not yet arrive but will progressively.
In addition to the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine, Costa Rica has purchased from Astrazeneca and through the COVAX facility by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
With Pfizer/Biontech, a person who is vaccinated should receive a second dose at 21 days. Then, according to Salas, it may take 15 days for the immune system to raise its defenses.
Llegaron!!! 💉 😊 pic.twitter.com/Lf2gAFnqDL
— Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica (@msaludcr) December 24, 2020
The CCSS indicated that, for weeks, it has been carrying out training preparations and preparing the planning of vaccinations and the necessary supplies to begin with the systematic introduction of the first doses.
“It is the best Christmas news, because we need an air of enthusiasm to stay within the security measures instead of neglecting ourselves at the crucial moment, where we live the imminent risk of full occupation of services,” said CCSS president Román Macaya.
For President Carlos Alvarado, this is the result of the work that the government has done to guarantee the protection of the right to health, through access to the vaccine to face covid-19.
“This is the direction that we have followed during these months of work, the vaccination process may represent the beginning of the end of the pandemic, but it does not mean that we must lower our guard,” said the president.