Thousands of incoming pilgrims were given more than 200,000 doses of the polio vaccine, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah told reporters on Tuesday.
Polio medication is compulsory for pilgrims from certain African countries, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Afghanistan. The African countries are Uganda, Kenya, Benin, Angola, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. On arrival, all pilgrims from these countries are given an oral dose.
Al-Rabeeah revealed this information during a visit to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah where he checked this year's Haj health arrangements.
“We have taken every preventive step to keep the holy cities free from infectious diseases,” he said.
The ministry has deployed officials at all 14 ports of entry to monitor pilgrims and ensure they have taken the necessary vaccinations. “Those who have not taken the vaccinations, will be given the relevant doses at the ports of entry so they are protected against contagious diseases,” he said.
The minister said officials have not found any trace of epidemic diseases, particularly the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus. The ministry is monitoring the situation with the World Health Organization, he said.
Al-Rabeeah said the ministry has recruited more than 20,000 medical, technical and administrative professionals for the Haj this year, with 441 experts from the Kingdom and abroad overseeing rare medical disciplines.
The Health Ministry has instructed incoming pilgrims, through the Kingdom's missions abroad, to produce vaccination certificates against yellow fever, meningitis, polio and influenza depending on their countries of origin.
Most pilgrims from Africa and South America have been advised to get vaccinations for yellow fever, which is endemic to countries from those regions.
Vaccinations against meningitis are compulsory for all pilgrims. These are valid for three years and pilgrims have been advised to take the injection at least 10 days before their departure.