If you plan to visit Costa Rica soon, this is what you need to know regarding vaccinations and shots required to visit Costa Rica.
Please note that Costa Rica does not require tourists to be COVID-19 vaccinated to visit. Fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people are welcome to visit Costa Rica. The only vaccination required to enter Costa Rica is the yellow fever vaccination if you are flying into Costa Rica from a country that is at high risk for yellow fever.
Please check our Costa Rica COVID entry requirements post to as the country does have a couple of requirements for tourists.
Diseases and Illnesses in Costa Rica
Malaria and Dengue Fever
When I came to Central America for my first time, I was given chloroquine pills to take as antimalarial medication. I, like so many other visitors blindly believed my PCP and spent the dollars and time to get these pills. Not only are they huge and terrible to swallow but it turned out to be a waste of money!
Malaria is not rampant in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has done a great job in eliminating malaria.
However, dengue fever is much more prevalent in Costa Rica and this can cause symptoms like body aches, fever, diarrhea/vomiting and loss of fluids that lasts for many days. With no cure or vaccination, all you can do is drink a ton of fluids and rest. There are 4 strains of dengue fever and although it is not common, there is one strain that causes hemorrhaging.
The best thing to do for prevention is using lots of bug spray that works for you and covering up. We have a list ofrecommended mosquito repellent products you can read here.
Stomach Flu and Diarrhea
I have a very sensitive stomach and have had some digestive issues so I always bring diarrhea and upset stomach medicine wherever I go in Costa Rica. I never got it from drinking tap water, just a bug that goes around during certain times of year or unfortunately from food poisoning.
You can find diarrhea medicine, electrolyte drinks and powders and nausea meds at the pharmacy.
If you’re wondering if the tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica, it is. Read more about tap water here.
There are five strains of hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E are transmitted similarly, through contaminated food and water. Although unlikely to catch it in Costa Rica, it is possible especially if you’re in rural areas and buying produce from unclean places. It is always a possibility so it is important to get the vaccination.
Like I mentioned before, I’d stick to bottled water if you have a sensitive stomach or are visiting more remote and rural areas.
Hepatitis B, C and D are spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids so protect yourself if you find yourself in a situation where any of this type of contact may occur which includes any sexual contact or piercings.
Unless you’re going to be in close vicinity to livestock, wildlife or remote areas, you do not need to worry about rabies. Yes, there are animals with rabies here but if you don’t stick your head into a bat cave, you’ll be fine.
Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria that is contracted through contaminated food and water meaning it has come in contact with feces of an infected individual.
Typhoid has severe symptoms that can lead to hemorrhaging, encephalitis, and rashes. Be very careful to always wash your hands, especially if you are in a rural area and get rid of the poor sanitary habits. This is crucial to preventing typhoid fever.
Shots Needed for Costa Rica
This part is important, vaccinations. I know some people don’t believe in them but this post isn’t about that. This is just for what shots or vaccinations are required for Costa Rica.
They recommend to be up to date with all the routine vaccinations such as MMR, chickenpox, polio and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis.
Remember, a COVID-19 vaccination is not required for tourists to enter Costa Rica. However, the USA CDC does recommend the following vaccinations for Costa Rica:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Typhoid fever
- Rabies (only for those working with wildlife or in places that put them more at risk for animal bites)
You do NOT need a yellow fever vaccination to enter Costa Rica unless you are traveling from countries that are high risk for yellow fever. They will stop and quarantine you at the airport if you do not have proof of this vaccination.
And as always, make sure to check your home country’s recommendations for traveling abroad.