Region, Life & Health, COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccination in Guanacaste will begin this Monday, January 11

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Translator: Arianna Hernández

Four health centers in Guanacaste will begin vaccinating their staff against COVID-19 on Monday, January 11, 2021. These include Enrique Baltodano Hospital in Liberia, La Anexion Hospital in Nicoya, the Liberia Health Area and the Nicoya Health Area .

That will signal the start of the race for the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) to add more front-line workers outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA), in other words those people who directly attend to the health crisis from health areas, the police force and emergency responders. All of them will be vaccinated with doses of Pfizer/BionTech, which is the vaccine that the country began receiving weekly starting December 24, 2020.

We received the vaccine with great joy and enthusiasm. This will contribute to the emotional aspect of the workers to avoid infection and mitigate stress by knowing that we could be the vehicle for transmitting the virus to our families,” the director of La Anexion Hospital, Anner Angulo, told The Voice.

According to the official, 900 people work at the hospital. This Monday, 200 doses will arrive that will be allocated to the staff who care for COVID-19 patients on a daily basis, he specified. As more doses arrive each week, the rest of the staff will be vaccinated.

Elizabeth Castillo, 91, was the first person in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She is in a long-term care facility in Tres Rios. In Guanacaste, CCSS has identified nine centers like this one where both the residents and the staff who care for them will get vaccinated. Photo: Courtesy of the Presidency

Step By Step

By the end of this month, all health areas will have begun vaccination, according to CCSS’ rollout plan, said Diego Alfaro Alvarez, coordinator of the CCSS Regional Immunization Commission.

“[The Pfizer/BionTech vaccine] requires special cold-chain storage conditions for conservation, which makes it impossible for all health centers in the country or region to start vaccination at the same time,” Alfaro explained.

Since we don’t yet have ultra-low temperature equipment, efforts have been made so that the COVID-19 vaccine reaches the Chorotega Region population only at some health centers, providing security and control aspects,” he added. 

Currently, CCSS has five freezers, one from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR- Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica), with capacity to store approximately 39,000 doses, and four from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), each with a capacity to store 50,000 doses. 

At this time, the country can store a total of 239,000 doses simultaneously.

The purchase of 14 freezers by the National Emergency Commission (CNE- Comisión Nacional de Emergencias) will allow the country to have greater storage capacity. According to CNE’s president, Alexander Solis, the cost for the freezers is $223,000.

In total, the CCSS estimates that 217,613 people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Chorotega Region.

Alfaro said they hope to vaccinate the first group during the first quarter, made up of first responders and senior citizens. According to CCSS data, this includes 4,772 CCSS workers, 215 firefighters, 1,509 Public Force officers, 266 from the Ministry of Health and 411 from the Red Cross, among others.

In addition, the institution is counting nine long-term care homes with a total of 300 residents.