Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s health authorities have urged domestic and overseas pilgrims participating in this year’s Hajj to get mandatory vaccines.
The kingdom’s Health Ministry has specified these vaccines as full inoculation against COVID-19, the anti-meningitis vaccine for those who have not got it in the last five years, and the seasonal flu shot.
The ministry said it is necessary for the domestic pilgrims to reserve appointments for the vaccinations via the “Sehaty” app to “ensure a healthy and safe” pilgrimage.
The vaccines are available from now on until 10 days before the start of the Hajj rites due this year in late June, according to the ministry.
Overseas pilgrims can get the mandatory vaccines in their home countries before travelling to Saudi Arabia. Some vaccines required for those coming from outside Saudi Arabia include yellow fever and poliovirus and COVID-19.
Hajj is one of Islam’s five obligatory duties. Saudi Arabia has said that the minimum age for performing this year’s Hajj pilgrimage is 12 years as the numbers of pilgrims will return to the pre-pandemic times.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj has said that priority for registering to undertake this year’s pilgrimage is given to Muslims who did not perform it before.
The kingdom has said there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the upcoming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the global pandemic.
In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.
Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.