Monday 27 September 2021

President confirms efforts to vaccinate undocumented migrants

Since April 2020, the Inter-American Court declared that migrants should be included in vaccination against covid. President admits difficulty in registering dose application

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QCOSTARICA – In consideration of human rights and because it is a matter of public interest, undocumented migrants living in Costa Rica must be vaccinated.

Fieldwork by CCSS teams in the northern zone due to covid-19, in June 2020. In the photo, giving care in the town of La Trocha, near the border with Nicaragua. Photo: Courtesy CCSS

This was stated by the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, for whom it is also an action that helps to reactivate the economy.

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“Yes, we must vaccinate this population,” said the president this Tuesday, July 27.

The statement was made after a report published in La Nación that discovers the lack of vaccine coverage in people with irregular immigration status, in others words, “illegal” in the country.

Pressed by the press, Alvarado affirmed that there is a “solution on the way”, referring to another vaccine donation of which he did not want to reveal details. Both the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Health are working on this, said the president.

“We hope to finalize this this week to have an answer for that population and to have protection for all the inhabitants of our country. It is an issue on our radar and that is in our interest to resolve. There is already a way and we hope to communicate it once we have it confirmed,” declared Alvarado.

Since April 2020, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a declaration entitled “Covid-19 and Human Rights: problems and challenges must be approached from a Human Rights perspective and respecting international obligations”.

On April 14, 2020, the president of the IACHR, Elizabeth Odio Benito, explained that this declaration intends that the States bear in mind their international obligations and the jurisprudence of the Court.

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According to Odio, this is to “ensure the effective enforcement and protection of human rights in response and containment to the pandemic.”

“At this time, special emphasis acquires guaranteeing in a timely and appropriate manner the rights to life and health of all persons under the jurisdiction of the State without any discrimination, including the elderly, migrants, refugees and stateless persons, and the members of the indigenous communities,” says the statement.

President Alvarado acknowledged that immigration status “is the issue” originating from what he called “documentary problems”, although he clarified that “this should not be a limitation on the issue of human rights.”

The important thing, he said, is to have a registry system defined.

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“The person, their information and the lot (of the vaccine) are registered. It is part of the monitoring that the Caja (Costa Rican Social Security) does, in addition, to schedule the second dose. Not having this would generate incomplete schedules or people who are vaccinated more,” clarified the president.

He assured that actions are underway to find a solution, so that the entire population can register.

“Part of the problem is having undocumented people and not having a way to reference them, but this is no excuse. We are looking for the method and also the doses to be able to do it. It is a solution en route and on the way to be done, to get vaccinated. But we need to do it in an orderly process. This is important, it is not minor,”, clarified Alvarado.

The “illegal” migrant population is one of the most vulnerable. At the beginning of the national emergency due to the covid, they became the first sources of outbreaks due to living and working conditions, discovered in some plantations in the northern zone.

Later, the so-called “cuarterías” (rooming houses), especially in Sam Jose, had the migrant population in focus.

For this reason, both the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) and the Ministry of Health said that the care of any migrant sick with covid would be covered.

With the advance of vaccination, it turned out that undocumented migrants were out of this campaign.



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