Costa Rica Vaccine Requirement |
Some vaccines are recommended, and some vaccines are required by the Costa Rican government, find out more here!
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Costa Rica required and recommended Vaccines

What Vaccines do I need to enter Costa Rica?

Some vaccines are recommended, depending on the type of activities you are planning on doing in Costa Rica. And some vaccines are required by the Costa Rican government, depending on what country you are arriving from.

Let’s start with mandatory vaccines.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

If you are entering Costa Rica after spending time in South America or Africa, you might be required to present proof of the Yellow Fever Vaccine. The vaccine needs to have been received 10 days before your arrival in the country. That is because, in these areas of the world, Yellow Fever is endemic in many places, which means it is regularly occurring and thus easily contracted. An exception to this requirement can be made for senior citizens, children under the age of 9 as well as pregnant women.

If you have travelled to the following countries, make sure you get the Yellow Fever shot before crossing into Costa Rica:


Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Sao Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

South America:

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, French Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago

Now let’s talk about the recommended (but not mandatory) Vaccines.

Both the National Travel Health Network & Centre and W.H.O. recommend that travellers, no matter their country of origin, consider receiving the following vaccinations before travelling to Costa Rica: hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, and rabies.

Let’s look at why each vaccine is recommended.

Hepatitis A & Typhoid Vaccines

Hepatitis A and Typhoid are extremely unpleasant gastrointestinal diseases contracted through contaminated food and water. Yes, we are talking about diarrhea often accompanied by fever.

So, if you are planning on eating or drinking anything(!) during your trip, you might want to consider getting vaccinated against these two nasty illnesses. It won’t guarantee that you will not get any digestive problems, as some are related to certain bacteria against which you can’t protect yourself but it will at least help reduce the chances of you getting sick during your vacation.

Tetanus Vaccine

Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, poop, or dust. The bacteria enter the body through wounds or breaks in the skin, usually caused by contaminated objects. The main reason the tetanus vaccine is recommended for most tropical destinations is that we often walk bare feet and are thus more susceptible to stepping on something and cutting our skin open, creating a perfect entry point for the bacteria.

The symptoms of tetanus infection are painful muscle spasms and stiffness, difficulty swallowing, tension of the muscles around the lips and rigidity in the abdominal muscles.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is contracted by an open wound entering in contact with the saliva of an infected animal. So, if you are planning on being in contact with animals or travelling to remote areas, consider getting your rabies shot. Runners as well as cyclists are at particular risk of contracting rabies because of the higher risk of animal bites.

If you get bitten by an animal in Costa Rica, get medical advice as soon as possible, even if you have received the vaccine, as Costa Rica is considered a high-risk area for contracting rabies.

In conclusion…

All this may sound a bit scary, but the reality is that most people don’t get the recommended vaccines and are totally fine. The decision is really up to you: If you want to put all the chances on your side that you will not get sick during your vacation, get the vaccines. But even if you don’t, you will probably be ok.