MoH considers making coronavirus vaccination mandatory for Hajj permit

A small group of worshippers pray at Kaaba in the Grand Mosque while practicing social distancing, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 4, 2020. (Photo Credit: Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS)

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is working on raising the percentage of COVID-19 vaccine recipients in the cities of Makkah and Madinah to at least 60 percent before Dhul Hijjah 1, 1442H (July 13), Okaz learned from well-informed sources.

In coordination with the National Transformation Program (NTP), the ministry has set out a health plan for Hajj this year. According to the plan, all those assigned to work in Hajj this year must receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine approved in the Kingdom. It also stipulates that the domestic pilgrims must obtain two doses of an approved vaccine inside the Kingdom before Dhul Hijjah 1, the sources revealed.

The sources indicated that the ministry is intending to make it mandatory for all pilgrims coming from abroad to obtain two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO); and the second dose of the vaccine should be taken one week before arrival in Saudi Arabia. There is also a need for the pilgrim to obtain an approved and negative COVID-19 laboratory test; 72 hours before arrival in the Kingdom.

The ministry will oblige all pilgrims to submit to a 72-hour quarantine during; which they must repeat the laboratory test for coronavirus from an approved authority.

In its health controls plan for the 1442H Hajj; the ministry mentioned the need for all pilgrims and workers to adhere to wearing masks. They should also comply with the mandatory social distancing in their residences. When moving, they should maintain a mandatory distancing of at least 1.5 m between one person and the other.

The ministry is set to exclude the most vulnerable groups from being nominated to perform Hajj. Besides, limiting the age groups to between the ages of 18 and 60 only.