As I ran through airport security to catch the plane to Panamá I told myself I would be more observant of different country's immunization guide lines in the future. At the check-in booth of the Rio de Janeiro Airport the airline worker asked me if I had proof of departure from Costa Rica. Most American tourists can spend only 90 days in Costa Rica and they need proof that they have purchased their ticket home—or at least their ticket out of the country. This is to prevent the “perpetual tourist” from getting stuck in paradise.
International plane tickets, international bus tickets, tickets to the international space station; all of these satisfy the requirement for proof of exit.
I handed the woman my bus ticket and she asked me if I had my Yellow Fever vaccination.
I replied, “Yellow fever vaccination?”
She repeated herself.
For those of you who, like me, don't have one, a yellow fever vaccination looks like this.
Under no circumstances, she told me, could I enter Costa Rica without my vaccination.
It took about an hour to plan a quick '7 day quarantine' vacation to Panamá, a country that doesn't require yellow fever vaccinations.
The CDC does recommend that travellers are up to date on their normal vaccinations. These include themeasles-mumps-rubella, the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, the chickenpox, and the polio vaccines.
Aso, because there is some risk that travellers will run into Hepatitus A and Typhoid while they are on their vacation (both because of contaminated food and water) the CDC recommends that vacationers get these vaccines as well.
The risk of Malaria is, thankfully, very low in Costa Rica. You should still protect yourself from mosquitos, but mainly because mosquitos are annoying. (Those looking for an excuse to drink gin and tonics should remember no excuse is ever needed to drink gin and tonics [Those confused by that last b-side should look into the anti-malarial properties of the quinine in tonic!]).
Rabies, too, is almost non-existant in Costa Rica. Bats are known to carry the virus, though, so if you are planning on visiting bat caves (why?!) it might be wise to get your rabies vaccine.
In Conclusion, Costa Rica is an amazing, safe place to vacation. Basically, remember your normal vaccinations and then feel free to enjoy the beaches, mountains, jungles, and amazing diversity of Central America's “Pura Vida” country.