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Saudi Arabia announces list of mandatory vaccines ahead of Hajj season

Authorities say pilgrims must have had meningitis and flu jabs administered, on top of the required two doses of an approved Covid vaccine

Saudi Arabia‘s Ministry of Health has announced that domestic pilgrims are required to take the meningitis and seasonal flu vaccines, ahead of this year’s Hajj season.

Pilgrims within the kingdom are required to take the meningitis vaccine, if they have not had it administered in the past five years, and the seasonal flu vaccine, which is mandatory for those who have never taken it.

This is on top of two shots of an approved Covid-19 vaccine.

The meningitis and seasonal flu vaccines must have been administered at least 10 days before performing Hajj in July.

No requirements on vaccines for diseases other than the coronavirus have been outlined for international visitors yet.

Authorities are eager to welcome pilgrims from abroad this year after the kingdom’s mass vaccination campaign helped to stem the spread of Covid-19, leading to a fall in the number of cases and the easing of social distancing and travel regulations.

The latest Covid-19 figures released on Friday by the ministry showed 945 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the kingdom’s total number of infections since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to 783,076.

There were three deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,183, while 114 people were said to be in critical condition.

About 67 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered since Saudi Arabia’s immunisation campaign began, with more than 25 million people fully vaccinated.

With the Hajj season fast approaching, 147,094 pilgrims of different nationalities had reached Madinah as of Saturday.

Pilgrims prepare to leave for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Srinagar, Kashmir. AFP
Muslim pilgrims arrive in Jeddah. AFP

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah reported that 136,007 pilgrims had landed at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah since it began to welcome the first Hajj flights, while 11,087 pilgrims arrived via land borders.

Authorities have outlined procedures that must be followed at entry points within and before entering the country. These include verification of all health documents, including vaccination certificates, and in-person screening.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia said people would no longer be required to wear masks after authorities dropped a series of measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

However, pilgrims will still have to wear masks when visiting the two Holy Mosques.

Saudi Arabia plans to permit up to a million pilgrims from abroad this year and has expanded its handling capacity after two years of limiting Hajj to domestic pilgrims only.

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