Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
Claimant is a senior citizen, who is 86 years old and cannot care for herself. She asked the Clinica Integrada de Tibás, a Clinic of the Social Security Fund of Costa Rica, -the public institution in charge of social security in the country, to administer her third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since she had lost her vaccination card, the Clinic told her that she had to go through many bureaucratic procedures to be inoculated. She considered that this violated her right to health, so she filed an amparo action.
The Court determined that the Claimant's right to health had been violated, especially considering Claimant’s vulnerability as an elderly and dependent adult.
Facts of the case
Claimant is a senior citizen of 86 years old, who cannot not care for herself. She asked the Clínica Integrada de Tibás, a Clinic part of the Social Security Fund of Costa Rica, the public institution in charge of social security in the country, to administer her third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since Claimant had lost her vaccination card, the Clinic told her that she needed to complete a series of bureaucratic procedures such as filling out a form, then presenting a medical opinion to be vaccinated, going to a bank to buy stamps, then presenting the completed form with the stamps attached and, if the administrative requirement was satisfied, finally going to a private university, located in another locality for the application of the vaccine.
The Claimant argued that these requirements violated her right to health since barriers were being imposed on accessing the vaccine, delaying the process in an unjustified manner because there were no instructions from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund to ask for these type of requirements and the doses applied can be seen in the SIVA, which is a computer system where the vaccines are registered and to which the Clinic had access.
The Clinic said that it put these requirements according to the instructions given by the Caja. The Caja said that these were the guidelines given for replacing the vaccination card for whoever needed it but that the Claimant should not have been asked for this document to receive her third dose.
Due to this amparo action, the Claimant received her third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the process.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court found that the Claimant's right to health had been violated, especially considering Claimant’s vulnerability as an elderly and dependent adult.
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court indicated that the right to health is an independent fundamental right. It emphasized that according to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, everyone has the right to have access to the means to enjoy the highest possible level of physical and mental health, so that the State and its institutions must ensure the full realization of this right through positive actions.
That implies the duty to prevent and effectively treat illnesses and the creation of conditions that ensure medical assistance and quality medical services to all in the event of illness.
On the other hand, the right to health also entails accessibility to these services and programs in terms of non-discrimination, physical accessibility, economic accessibility, and accessibility to information.
Secondly, regarding the specific case, the Court pointed out that there was indeed a violation of Claimant’s fundamental rights because the denial of the application of the vaccine, requested by the Claimant, was due to an erroneous interpretation of the institutional provisions related to the loss of vaccination cards made by the authorities of the Clinic.
The Court indicated that exposing the Claimant to excessive barriers in obtaining the application of the vaccine against COVID-19 was contrary not only to the principles of efficiency, efficacy, celerity, opportunity, and convenience that should govern the provision of health services but also to the special protection that the Political Constitution itself mandates to provide to vulnerable populations, including the elderly.
Since a solution to the problem was provided due to the amparo action because the Claimant received the third dose of the vaccine, the Court declared the amparo action for violation of the right to health to be admissible, but without ordering the payment of costs.
Finally, the Court urged the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the Clinic to take measures of communication and coordination to define the procedure to be followed in these cases to avoid the recurrence of cases of violation of fundamental rights.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to health, Art. 46, Costa Rican Constitution
- Right to health, Art. 12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights