RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (SPA and Agencies) – The Saudi health minister says the kingdom will not ban anyone considered high risk for swine flu from performing the hajj pilgrimage this year.
Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah says it is the responsibility of individual countries to enforce recommendations that children, the elderly and pregnant women skip the pilgrimage, which starts Nov. 25. Al-Rabeeah says only two cases of swine flu have been reported so far among the half million pilgrims who have already arrived in the kingdom.
The minister says there are no indications fewer people will be attending this year’s pilgrimage because of swine flu concerns.
He spoke Saturday at the launch of a swine flu vaccine campaign where at the Health Ministry headquarters where Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah received the first dose of the Swine Flu A H1N1 as the beginning of the official Campaign of the National Vaccination Campaign against Swine Flu Type (H1N1) with participation of the members of the National Scientific Committee to counter epidemic diseases.
The nasal spray Vaccine is registered and approved by the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) and also by the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA).
The Ministry pointed out that the vaccine will be given primarily to Hajj- participating employees from all sectors of governmental bodies.
The Ministry secured quantities of the vaccine and delivered them to the relevant parties in the government sectors to be given to the concerned employees. In addition, the vaccine will also be distributed in all regions and governorates of the Kingdom to be given optionally for people who have Hajj permits. The Ministry has allocated specified amounts to be distributed among most vulnerable workers in the regions of Mecca and Medina.