Hajj 2023: Egyptian pilgrims to take COVID, meningitis vaccines – Health ministry
Egyptians willing to perform Hajj (annual Islamic pilgrimage) this year in the holy city of Mecca are required to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and to take a meningitis vaccine shot, Spokesman of Egypt’s Ministry of Health Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar affirmed.
This comes in line with the health protocols issued by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for this year, which requires pilgrims coming from around the world to take the vaccines for coronavirus, meningitis, and also the seasonal flu.
Pilgrims travelling from Egypt to Saudi Arabia have to submit coronavirus vaccination certificates with QR codes to prove that they took all the required vaccine doses, including a booster shot, the spokesman said.
Abdel-Ghaffar noted that the booster shot is only valid for six months before travel.
Travellers also have to submit valid vaccination certificates proving that they took one shot of the ACYW-135 vaccine against meningitis at least 10 days but no more than three years before travel.
Pilgrims can undergo the required medical examination for traveling to Hajj this year at 237 hospitals nationwide from 9 am to 2 pm, the spokesman said.
Patients with lung fibrosis, who are obese, or who have kidney failure requiring dialysis sessions are not allowed to perform Hajj this year.
In addition, patients with advanced cases of heart and blood vessels diseases as well as those who suffer from cirrhosis and tumors will not be allowed to travel for Hajj.
Those banned from travelling for Hajj also include psychiatric patients and those diagnosed with Alzheimer by accredited medical reports.
Egyptian authorities will also ban pregnant women in the early and late pregnancy stages from performing Hajj.
According to the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, only those pilgrims who do not suffer from chronic or infectious diseases and who are above 12 years of age will be allowed to travel for Hajj this year.
The ministry also affirms that the priority for accepting pilgrims will be given to those who have not previously performed Hajj.
Saudi Arabia will not impose limits on the number of pilgrims for this year’s Hajj, Associated Press cited Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah as saying to reporters in Riyadh in January.
This comes after three years of restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Muslims perform the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, every year during Dhul-Hijjah month, the last month of the Islamic year, which coincides this year with the month of June.
All capable Muslims are required to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, at least once in their lifetime. Repeating Hajj is voluntary.
In 2022, nearly 900,000 pilgrims, including some 780,000 from abroad, were welcomed to Islam’s holiest cities of Mecca and Medina.
Around 35,000 Egyptians reportedly travelled to Mecca to perform the Hajj last year.
In December, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced cancelling the Hajj at the expense of the Egyptian state for the second year in a row.
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