Leer en Español
Last January 26, in the city of Heredia, Costa Rica, a child was admitted to the San Vicente de Paul Hospital for a respiratory problem and, without the consent of his parents, one of the doctors of the institution decided that he should be vaccinated against COVID-19.
This triggered a strong controversy in Costa Rica, involving local politicians and other parents who disagree with the vaccine mandates for children, approved in the Central American country in November 2021. Other concerned parents violently broke into the hospital center where the child was hospitalized, putting staff and patients at risk, according to the official version of the health authorities.
“The Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) will denounce before the Public Prosecutor’s Office the people who this afternoon violated the facilities of the San Vicente de Paul hospital, in Heredia, beating officials of the establishment and forcing the suspension of outpatient consultation and other services,” reads the statement by the Costa Rican government health agency.
The international press, relying on the official version of the CCSS, covered the event labeling the parents as an “anti-vaccine group.”
“An anti-vaccine group from COVID-19 forced their way into a Costa Rican hospital to allegedly remove a six-year-old boy who was being admitted. In the incident they assaulted security officers, patients and medical personnel,” explained RT.
Up to seven people were arrested for the clashes.
What really happened in Costa Rica?
According to the CCSS version, in addition to the respiratory problem presented by the child, “a situation was detected that required the intervention of the social work service, which associated with the refusal of the parents to vaccinate the child, led to requesting the criteria by the National Children’s Board.”
“The discharge of the child will take place once the pediatrics and social work services of the hospital authorize it,” explained the missive, which does not specify the situation that generated the call to social services.
What the official version does not explain correctly either, at least according to the counterpart, is that the hospital attended the father of the child and “a legal advisor” who was accompanying him before the confrontations. This “legal advisor” was allegedly expelled from the meeting he had with the hospital director, provoking the indignation of the parents who do not agree with the current health laws that affect parental authority.
Costa Rican congresswoman Shirley Diez, an independent politician, who opposes vaccine mandates, was present at the San Vicente Hospital accompanying the child’s father and other representatives. She gave the other side of the story that was not exposed in the international media.
“In my capacity as deputy of the Republic, and at the request of several parents, including the affected father at the Heredia hospital, I had to go to the hospital to talk to the director; since I feel extremely concerned about the parental rights of Costa Rican children,” said Congresswoman Diez in a video. “I don’t think it is correct the way in which the hospital is handling the issue of mandatory vaccination of minors and how this has been detrimental to the parental rights.”
According to Diez, the meeting with the director of the hospital was going well until “we took the father to meet with the social worker and his lawyer, Mrs. Sonia Sandí. We left the hospital and answered the questions of a group of parents who were waiting outside the hospital. What was our surprise? Sonia was being removed by hospital security from the meeting she was having with the social worker. And for that reason the parents felt extremely offended and reacted the way they did.”
Congresswoman Diez said she was concerned about both the acts of violence and the fact that the hospital expelled the father of the hospitalized minor without his consent.
The case has provoked a strong debate in networks, between those who support mandatory vaccination and call parents anti-vaccine and violent, and those who do not agree with the State overriding parental authority and forcing children to be vaccinated.
However, there are many details of the case that have not been clarified by either the official or the parental version. For example: why were social services called to intercede in the case, why was the lawyer Sandí expelled from the meeting with the director, why did a doctor order the vaccination of the hospitalized child when he presented a possible symptom of COVID-19 and it is not advisable to be vaccinated in that condition?
El American contacted both Congresswoman Diez and the press team of the CCSS, but neither responded to the request for comments at the time of publishing this article.
The timing of this controversy in Costa Rica also coincides with the decision of health authorities in Nordic countries —specifically Sweden and Norway— not to recommend vaccination against COVID-19 for children between 5-12 years of age because the “benefits do not outweigh the risks.”
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
Contacto: [email protected]