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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Ministry offers free vaccines for Abu Dhabi residents and citizens attending Hajj

A health campaign launched by the UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention — in co-operation with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authority — will provide medical counselling and optional seasonal flu and pneumococcal vaccines for pilgrims.

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, in the Saudi city of Mecca. Ahmad Gharbali / AFP
Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, in the Saudi city of Mecca. Ahmad Gharbali / AFP

Muslims attending Hajj this year are being advised to get vaccinated against diseases, carry a medicine bag and stay hydrated during their pilgrimage.

Optional seasonal flu and pneumococcal vaccines are being offered as part of an awareness campaign launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and the Dubai Health Authority.

UAE citizens and residents of Abu Dhabi can receive the required vaccinations free of charge at most health centres under the Abu Dhabi Health Services, said Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, director of Haad’s public health department.

“Believing that prevention is better than cure and in light of our continuing commitment towards ensuring the safety of pilgrims, the authority calls upon all pilgrims wishing to perform Hajj this year to take all preventive measures that aim to keep them safe and protected from potential infectious diseases as a result of the overcrowding of pilgrims from different parts of the world, interacting with people of different cultures, races and ages, as well as different health risks,” Dr Al Hajri said.

She said personal hygiene, getting enough rest and drinking plenty of fluids would also help keep pilgrims healthy.

The campaign will also provide medical counselling and health advice to pilgrims to ensure their safety.

The information aims to make Hajj travellers aware of the preventive measures by taking vaccines so that infections and diseases do not spread in the country when they return.

Dr Elham Al Nuaimi of the Dubai Health Authority asked pilgrims to get inoculated at least 15 days before travel.

"When planning a Hajj pilgrimage, there are certain health and preventive measures to help pilgrims perform their rituals without any health problems," Dr Al Nuaimi said.

People aged 60 years and above, patients with chronic diseases, children and pregnant women and those with HIV were advised to postpone Hajj or Umrah this year for their safety, as per recommendations from the Ministry and local health authorities.

If the elderly and chronic patients do travel for Hajj, they have been advised to visit the Preventive Medicine Department or any health centre at least four to six weeks before travel.

Doctors asked pilgrims to remember to take the meningitis vaccine to protect them from the disease. The meningitis vaccination is a prerequisite to secure a visa to Saudi Arabia.

Children travelling for Hajj should have already received basic vaccinations. Parents have been asked to bring the child's vaccination certificates to the health centre to be reviewed by specialists.

Pilgrims with high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and other chronic diseases should visit their doctors or health centre, the ministry has advised.

If any symptoms of respiratory infection are observed 14 days after returning from Hajj or Umrah, pilgrims should visit the nearest centre.

Dr Hussain Al Rand, the Ministry’s Assistant Under-Secretary for Health Centers and Clinics, said the campaign would minimising the pilgrims’ exposure to health risks and prevent the spread of diseases while performing Hajj.

The list of health centres offering Hajj vaccinations can be found on HAAD website or by calling 800 555.

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