Do you have to be vaccinated to go to Panama? Yes, you do, and there is a list of vaccination certificates you need to show the immigration and health officials once you arrive in Panama City. In this article, we will review the loss of vaccinations expected of visitors depending on their nationality.
Panama Vaccination Requirements
Panama is a Central American country that connects North and South America. The country is largely a transit country for travelers transiting by land from the north to the south or vice versa, but much of the human traffic is northward from the south. Due to its strategic location, the country is always under constant threat of diseases, so the authorities institute stringent conditions to protect the local population.
These health measures are preventative and strictly enforced, so all visitors from selected countries must show evidence of one vaccination or more.
Vaccinations For Visitors
Since the pandemic disrupted the globe in 2020, Panama joined other countries to enforce strict lockdowns and vaccination requirements. Ever since many countries have relaxed their health policies, but Panama’s remains in force. All persons visiting Panama must respect the country’s Covid 19 protocols by either getting the vaccination or testing negative for the virus through a PCR test with a certificate to show it. This vaccination is mandatory for all visitors.
Visitors from selected countries must have received a yellow fever vaccine at least ten days before they travel to Panama or ten days after exposure to regions where the sickness is prevalent. Panama requires this vaccination certificate from visitors from selected African countries, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. Visitors from selected countries with these certificates will be allowed into the country. Also note that this visa is mandatory for persons planning to visit the Eastern province of Panama, including Darien, Guna Yala, and Embera territories.
All visitors are expected to have received vaccination for rabies with a certificate to show it if they are coming into the country to work with mammals and bats that may be vectors of the disease. The typical timeframe is at least four weeks, so they must receive the vaccine 30 days before the day of their trip to Panama. Those who have already received the vaccine must contact their medical professional to know when they will need the next booster shot.
Note: Persons who have been bitten by bats or other rabid animals in Panama have had to travel to other countries to receive post-exposure prophylaxis medical treatment because it is not easily accessible in the country.
Another vaccination required for persons working with bars and other mammals is the Tetanus vaccination.
Such STRI visitors must receive long-term vaccines that will remain active for the next ten years. After the initial shot, they must receive booster shots periodically following potential exposure to the virus, like an injury caused by metal objects.
If you are already taking certain vaccines, continuing with the booster shots is important. Common examples of such vaccines are polio, measles, diphtheria, chicken pox, yearly flu, etc. Consult the health authority in your country to stay informed on the timeline for the shots.
Hepatitis A & B
Panama has a prevalence of Hepatitis A and B due to exposure to contaminated water and food, no matter how careful one may be. To protect oneself taking three shots of Hepatitis A vaccines and two shots of Hepatitis B vaccines every six months is recommended.
Typhoid can also be transmitted through contaminated water and food, so vaccination should be administered in one shot.
Malaria may be high in some countries but is generally low in Panama. It is only prevalent in rural provinces where large bodies of stagnant water breed mosquitos.
It is important to bring along anti-malaria pills if you plan to visit those regions. Visitors should wear sleeves and pants to cover their hands and limbs. Sleeping under mosquito nets and using repellents is the way to go.
Zika/ Dengue/ Chikungunya
Researchers have discovered these viruses to be present in Panama. Vaccines for these viruses are not readily available in the country, so the best prevention against them is to take them from your home country if they are available before making the trip. Once you arrive in the country, you must adhere to safety protocols by wearing long sleeves and pants while outdoors or in forested areas. Furthermore, rooms should be protected with netted windows, mosquito nets, repellents, and anti-insect measures. Pregnant women are discouraged from visiting the country so as not to put their unborn children at risk because the Zika virus has been linked to congenital disabilities.
Do you have to be vaccinated to go to Panama? You must have received the vaccines listed in this article, depending on your nationality and your line of work.