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Panama Covid Vaccination

Panama to No Longer Recognize Two Doses as “Fully-Vaccinated”

Panama to recognize “fully-vaccinated” as three vaccinations – not two – for travelers to enter the country.

Last week, Panama became the first country in Central America to announce it was to no longer recognize “fully-vaccinated against Covid” to mean two shots (or one, in the case of Johnson & Johnson).

From February 12, to qualify as fully-vaccinated to enter Panama, you will need to show proof of three vaccinations – the first two plus a booster – or, in the case of Johnson & Johnson, two vaccinations (the first one plus another).

Anyone without three shots will be deemed as non/partially-vaccinated, and will need to take a PCR or rapid antigen test to enter Panama within 72 hours of arrival. Non/partially-vaccinated travelers entering Panama without a test will have to take one at the airport upon arrival at a cost of $50.

This is always a risk, because if you’re found positive at the airport, Panama will quarantine you in a facility (at your own cost) for 14 days. Better to get your test in advance and if you’re positive, don’t travel.

Last week, Panama also decreed that all public officials (government workers) must be fully-vaccinated against Covid – with fully-vaxxed meaning three jabs. Those who don’t follow this rule will need to present a negative Covid test every Monday to their immediate superior/supervisor at work, the test taken at their own expense.

This applies to everyone, including those who thought they were fully-vaccinated with the initial two doses.

As of January 16, Panama has administered over 690,000 boosters against Covid.

Boosters are available for everyone over the age of 16 who received their second vaccine at least three months ago. Panama also began vaccinating children last week, from the ages of five to eleven.

Like the rest of the region, Panama has a massive current case count of Covid due to the Omicron variant sweeping the world. But as it stands, hospitalizations and deaths are still low in Panama.

This is a common theme with Omicron, and is due, say most experts, to the fact that although it’s more infectious, Omicron is far less virulent than previous variants, causing far milder sickness.

Panama is the first country in Central America to stop recognizing two vaccinations as “fully-vaccinated”, although it’s not the first to take measures in the light of Omicron.

Costa Rica has returned to some stricter driving restrictions and opening hours for businesses, while Belize is mandating all travelers, including vaccinated travelers, to buy health insurance to cover Covid medical/quarantine costs.

Guatemala has also mandated that non-vaccinated travelers can no longer enter the country (non-vaccinated meaning anyone without two doses).

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