Haj 2024: UAE authority revises vaccination guidelines for pilgrims

Faithful must ensure their jabs are registered on the international vaccination card by accredited health centres

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Wed 29 May 2024, 2:27 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 May 2024, 11:22 PM

The UAE's health ministry has revised vaccination guidelines for Haj pilgrims who are travelling to Saudi Arabia. Travellers are now urged to get flu jabs and all other mandatory vaccines at least 15 days before departure, extending the period from the previous recommendation of 10 days.

This shall "ensure the vaccine's effectiveness" and provide travellers with "sufficient immunity", said the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap).


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“Pilgrims should ensure that their doses are registered on the international vaccination card by accredited health centres and follow all instructions and precautions before and during travel,” it added.


Which vaccinations should you take?

In March, authorities had made it mandatory for all Haj and Umrah pilgrims to take the flu jab prior to their trips.

This is on top of the required meningococcal vaccine (quadruple). Pneumococcal vaccine is also advised for those who are 65 years old or older and those who have a chronic disease.

Besides taking jabs, pilgrims should also make sure they have a sufficient supply of any prescribed medications for the trip. Staying in shape through regular exercise is important, too, Mohap added.

Focus on flu jabs

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, emphasised the importance receiving the flu shot as part of health preparations for the Haj season.

“This measure would ensure the protection of their health and the safety of the community from infectious diseases that may spread in large gatherings such as Haj,” Dr Al Rand said.

These precautionary steps apply particularly to "the most vulnerable groups, including those with chronic diseases, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing mothers".

Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, director of the Department of Public Health and Prevention, said following preventive measures is crucial to avoiding health issues during Haj.

Dr Al Marzouqi also urged pilgrims to protect themselves from heat exhaustion and physical stress.

“It is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet ... (to) ensure that worshippers can comfortably and safely perform their rituals,” the expert added.

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