SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Authorities in Costa Rica said on Tuesday all state workers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making it one of the first countries in Latin America to impose a coronavirus vaccination mandate.
Private companies across the country will also be able to mandate vaccination for their own employees, the health ministry said in a statement. No deadline was given for when employees must comply.
Some 300,000 people work in the public sector of the Central American nation of about 5 million, whose economy depends heavily on tourism. Approximately 40% of the population has been fully vaccinated but big gaps remain, as almost 30% of Costa Ricans have not received even a single shot.
The Social Security Fund, which runs Costa Rica's public hospital system, has since February required immunization against COVID-19 for all its workers.
On Monday, the University of Costa Rica, the country's biggest university, also announced a vaccination mandate.
The health authorities did not outline the consequences for employees who refuse to take a vaccine, saying "it will be the employer's responsibility to take measures according to the country's legislation and institutional regulations".
(Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Mark Heinrich)