Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Further areas addressed
Outcome of the decision
A public company required one of its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, this person challenged this measure and pointed out that the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, a public institution in charge of social security in the Republic of Costa Rica, and the Ministry of Health had modified the expiration date of the vaccines and were applying expired substances, with which they would vaccinate him. As a result, he filed an amparo action, considering that his rights to health and work were at risk.
The Court concluded that requiring mandatory vaccination of workers was a measure that was justified to protect public health and that employers had the duty to ensure compliance with this measure. In addition, it noted that it had not been proven that expired vaccines were being administered.
Facts of the case
The Claimant worked for Correos de Costa Rica, the public postal company. This company asked the worker to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the country's legislation which determined that vaccination were mandatory for all public and private sector workers.
However, this person did not want to be vaccinated because he indicated that the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, a public institution in charge of social security in the Republic of Costa Rica, and the Ministry of Health had modified the expiration date of the vaccines and were applying expired substances, with which they would vaccinate him.
Due to the above, the Claimant filed an amparo, protective action), requesting that the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, the Ministry of Health, and Correos de Costa Rica be ordered to refrain from applying expired vaccines.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
Firstly, the Court referred to the importance of vaccination as part of the essential health care that the Costa Rican State must guarantee to protect the fundamental right to health of all persons, and, secondly, that the safeguarding of public health and the prevention of diseases constitutes a constitutionally legitimate purpose that can validly justify the obligatory nature of vaccines.
The Court indicated that the mandatory application of the vaccine against COVID-19, in public and private sector personnel, was a measure that had not been defined by the employers but by the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission, per the powers granted by the National Vaccination Law and that this was justified by the country's legislation and the need to protect public health. The Court indicated that the mandatory nature of the vaccines implied the obligation of the State to supply and apply them to the population, without the State being able to allege economic reasons or lack of supply in the health services provided by state institutions.
Therefore, the Court indicated that it was not possible to affirm an infringement of the fundamental rights of the Claimant since the mandatory application of the vaccine against COVID-19 to the workers was defined by the National Commission of Vaccination and Epidemiology under the law. Therefore, the employer was entitled to request from its workers proof of having been vaccinated.
Secondly, the Court pointed out that all inhabitants of Costa Rica have the right to work, and this also implies the right of employers to guarantee workers minimum safety and hygiene conditions in the workplace so as not to put their physical and emotional integrity at risk, and therefore, to protect their right to health. Among these measures that employers must take, there is the obligation to adopt preventive measures indicated by the competent authorities. Consequently, employers are empowered to verify compliance with the obligation of workers to be vaccinated.
Finally, the Court indicated that the Claimant had affirmed but did not provide evidence related to the application of expired vaccines, so it was inappropriate to analyze any injury to a fundamental right as a consequence.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court concluded that requiring mandatory vaccination of workers was a measure justified in the interest of protecting public health and that employers had the duty to ensure compliance with this measure. In addition, it noted that it was not proven that expired vaccines were being administered.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to bodily integrity
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
- Right to work
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to work, Art. 56, Constitution of Costa Rica; Art. 14, American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man
- Right to health at work, Art. 66, Constitution of Costa Rica
- Right to health, Art. 46, Costa Rican Constitution; Art. 11, American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man;
- Right to health, Art. 10, San Salvador Protocol
- Bodily integrity, Art. 48, Costa Rican Constitution; Art. 1, American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
- Health (public) v. access to health services
- Health v. right to work
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court implicitly applied the principle of reasonableness to determine whether there was a legal justification, or whether it was arbitrary, for the Claimant to be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because he was a worker.