Country begins massive program to vaccinate children

The health minister, María Luisa Ávila, a physician, administers the shot to a youngster Monday while Alfio Piva Mesén steadies the child's arm. Casa Presidencial photo

The country has embarked on a project to vaccinate 700,000 youngsters this month.

The youngsters are getting shots against polio, rubella, measles and mumps. The work is being done through the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

Alfio Piva Mesén, vice president, and the minster of Salud, María Luisa Ávila, kicked off the program Monday morning in Alajuelita.

The vaccination program will cost more than $1 million and continue through May 27. The goal of the program is to eliminate many of the childhood diseases, some of which can lead to death.

Although vaccinations are readily available, not all parents in lower income families take advantage of the government health services. In addition, some youngsters are new arrivals from other countries that do not have a comprehensive health system.

Although polio is considered to have been eliminated in the Americas, the shots are a protection until the disease is eliminated in the whole world. For many children the shots are boosters to fortify the immunity they received by vaccinations earlier in their lives. Some of the childhood diseases are dangerous to unborn children, so the shots are a protection to mothers, too.

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