Polio drops, ticket for Haj pilgrims to Saudi
New Delhi, Nov 23: The Saudi Arabian government has decided that all Haj pilgrims from India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, regardless of age and vaccination status, should receive at least one dose of Oral Polio Vaccine prior to departure for Riyadh.
The decision has been conveyed to the Health Ministry through the External Affairs Ministry on tuesday.
The Health Ministry has asked all State Governments to make necessary arrangements at all health facilities for the administration of Oral Polio Vaccine as well as issue of certificates to Haj pilgrims.
The State Governments have also been requested to set up polio vaccination booths at the offices of the State Haj Committee as well as the airports from where the flights for Saudi Arabia leave. This arrangement would ensure that the pilgrims, who are unaware of the decision, are administered the OPV before departure and the vaccination certificates are issued to them.
Flights carrying Haj pilgrims take off from airports at Aurangabad, Nagpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Srinagar, Bangalore, Calicut, Jaipur, Kolkatta, Guwahati, Patna, Chenani, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad and immunisation of all travellers prior to departure will minimise the risk of importation of the virus to countries that have worked hard to eradicate polio.
It will also boost the immunity of travellers, especially young children, who are more susceptible to infection, and help stop the spread of the disease.