Sunday, September 13, 2009

Making the Hajj

For Muslims making the Hajj, the pilgrimage is an experience of intense spiritual renewal. With the preparations that come beforehand, including international travel, moral cleansing, and mental preparation for the events of religious fervor, another item has been added to that checklist: Vaccination.

Muslim pilgrims making the trip to Mecca for Hajj will be facing more healthcare regulations as the Saudi Arabia government introduced visa requirements in response to the H1N1 pandemic.

In the United Kingdom, the National Travel Health Network and Centre, Department of Health, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office created a leaflet to inform their traveling pilgrims of the new protocols. Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will be required to have received vaccination against the coming year’s seasonal influenza. Also, the Saudi government has adopted protocol for vaccination against pandemic H1N1, although they realize these expectations will probably not be met for this upcoming year’s pilgrimage. This year’s Hajj will occur November 25–29.

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