ImmunizationFilter - Travelling to Costa Rica - do we need shots?
April 7, 2007 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to Costa Rica with the wife and daughters (16 & 12) and was curious if we needed any immunizations (Malaria, Hep A, etc). We'll be there in early June, in Manuel Antonio. If anyone has been there and has any information, please let us know. Also, I'm open to suggestions on things to do there, it's our first trip there. Thanks in advance!
posted by wisdom-seeker to Travel & Transportation around Costa Rica (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The CDC Travelers' Health Central America page should answer most of your immunization questions.
posted by occhiblu at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

(And this malaria risk by country page should have more, if you need it.)
posted by occhiblu at 5:53 PM on April 7, 2007

You have looked at websites like the CDC's, right? (The Hep A and B vaccines strike me as a good idea, whether or not you travel, but that is a different topic.)
posted by Forktine at 5:54 PM on April 7, 2007

FWIW, I went there a few years ago and didn't get any special immunizations before going. (Went with my mother-in-law who is a doctor, and would have told us if any were required/advised, as I am clearly too lazy to do my own research.)
posted by saladpants at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2007

There is no vaccine for malaria.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:55 PM on April 7, 2007

You will not be denied entry to Costa Rica for not having inoculations, nor will you have any trouble returning to the US. The Caribbean coastal areas of CR are in the malaria zone, so your should probably get some chloroquine if you think you're going to go to that coast. It is a prophylaxis, not a vaccine.

You and your family should get the TwinRX Hep A&B series. It's relatively painless as inoculations go, and it gives you very close to 100% lifetime immunity to two very dangerous diseases that are much easier to prevent than to cure (and both of which do occur in the US with more frequency than we'd like to admit). If given by your family doctor, your insurance might even cover them (especially in the case of your kids).
posted by toxic at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

The CDC, as others have said, and the WHO are the first places you should go with questions about traveler's health.

Also, I just want to issue a word of caution on the malarial prophylactics. They're associated with a fairly high occurrence of some serious side effects, so using them isn't a decision to take lightly. Do your research (ask around some online travel forums, talk to your well-traveled friends) and definitely have a long talk with a doctor who does a lot of travel medicine.
posted by chickletworks at 8:17 PM on April 7, 2007

Call your regular healthcare provider and tell them where you're going. Many medical groups maintain travel clinics which can get you whatever vaccinations and medicines are necessary or suggested for the country.

Regardless, definitely make sure your tetanus booster is current and get antibiotics for for traveler's diarrhea.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:07 PM on April 7, 2007

My school's study abroad handbook (who compiled this info from who, cdc, and ncid) recommends for Costa Rica to get these shots if you haven't already: diptheria/tetanus, MMR, hep A & B, typhoid, and prescription meds for Malaria.

Also, contact your health insurance provider (if you have one) and make sure you and your family is covered in Costa Rica.
posted by fizzix at 8:40 AM on April 8, 2007

Red Cross barred me from donating blood due to a trip to the NW corner of Costa Rica (not the Caribean coast) where malaria is/was also prevalent. Great trip, though.
posted by johngumbo at 12:58 PM on April 8, 2007

And "What to do?"
Don't bother with San Jose.
I would recommend getting a 4Wdrive vehicle. We didn't and it was iffy on some of the "freeways" that turned out to be muddy tracks through the jungle. We spend our time on the dry coast in Guanacaste on the Golfo de Papagayo - gorgeous, lots of snorkelling, very hot. We also spent about 4 days near Arenal which was pretty spectacular. We saw a lot of very exotic wild life in the wild (strange cats, two coati, tons of monkeys, Jesus lizards, weird birds) as well as interesting things in a couple of very strange zoos we visited.

We had a really good time and we really want to go back. That said, most of the time we were there people kept telling us: "And this isn't even the nice part of CR. Go to Manuel Antonio next time."
Have a great trip!
posted by johngumbo at 1:08 PM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

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