Hajj pilgrims from Kuwait must meet health conditions set by Saudi gov’t

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KUWAIT CITY, April 15: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has approved the health requirements for those who will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj , reports Al-Anba daily. The guideline published by the daily stated that since the Hajj season for the year 2024 is fast approaching, travelers for Hajj and Umrah for the year 1445 AH (2024 AD) must fulfill certain health requirements as per the recommendations of the health authorities in Saudi Arabia and the health procedures followed in Kuwait as follows:
■ As per the recommendation of the Saudi Ministry of Health, Hajj travelers must be vaccinated against meningitis (ACW135Y).
■ They must be vaccinated against Covid- 19 with vaccines approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health. It should be noted that all vaccines used in the State of Kuwait are on the list of vaccines approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health.
■ They must be vaccinated against seasonal influenza.
■ They should adhere to precautionary measures and follow the preventive instructions issued by the Saudi health authorities during the performance of Hajj rituals to preserve their health and safety.
■ They must comply with instructions for vaccinating pilgrims and the latter’s contacts. Preventive centers must notify those wishing to perform Hajj to bring a civil identification card. It is recommended to obtain a letter from the Hajj caravan to which the pilgrim belongs when visiting the preventive health centers, so the pilgrims can obtain the required vaccinations.
■ Hajj health certificates are distributed by preventive health centers and the necessary data are filled out completely. Vaccination data in health certificates are valid only if approved by the public health sector or preventive health centers. Each certificate must have the pilgrims’ vaccination stamp, as well as the preventive center’s stamp, after completion of the required vaccinations. The preventive center doctor must sign and stamp every health certificate for pilgrims using his official seal and the official seal for meningeal vaccination.
■ The vaccination certificate must be filled, specifying the type of vaccine, name of the person who administered the vaccine, and the date of vaccination — day, month and year. Ensure that the date of vaccination is carefully written, without making any modifications. In the event of amending the date, the doctor must sign again and place his stamp near the signature; or obtain a new certificate, if possible. All pilgrims’ vaccinations are currently registered electronically in the preventive health centers.
■ The treating physician at the health center in the area where the pilgrim resides must conduct a medical examination on him and record his health condition and the medications used (if any) in the designated box on the certificate. Pilgrims must be vaccinated with the following:

A. Meningococcal Conjugate ACW135Y: Vaccination must be done no less than 10 days before travel for those who have not obtained the meningococcal vaccine, or those who were vaccinated more than five years ago for the conjugate vaccine and three years for the unconjugated vaccine.

B. Seasonal influenza vaccine for the year 2023-2024: one dose no less than 10 days before travel. The guideline stressed the need to prioritize influenza vaccination for pilgrims under these categories: elderly, pregnant women, children below five years old, those with chronic heart and blood diseases, those with chronic respiratory diseases, those with chronic kidney and liver dysfunctions, those with immunodeficiency diseases, those with tumor, cancer patients, organ transplant patients, diabetics, patients receiving continuous treatment with aspirin or cortisone, and patients receiving chemotherapy.

The pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumococcal 13 Valent) should be taken no less than 10 days before travel for those who have not been vaccinated with one dose. Priority for vaccination against pneumococcal should be given to pilgrims under the abovementioned categories. Regarding vaccination against Covid- 19, those wishing to perform Hajj must be fully vaccinated against Coronavirus (Covid-19).

On examining and vaccinating food handlers in Kuwaiti Hajj caravans, all workers in Hajj caravans, including food handlers, must be vaccinated with the previously mentioned vaccines by the aforementioned procedures like (those applied on pilgrims). All food handlers working in Kuwaiti Hajj caravans must be referred for comprehensive medical and laboratory examinations to the Food Handlers Examination Department to ensure that they are free of infectious diseases by the applicable health procedures.

There are additional vaccinations for food traders, taking into account the previous vaccination of those who worked in Hajj caravans in previous years as follows:
■ Typhoid vaccine – every two years
■ Paired meningeal allograft – every five years
■ Tetanus shot – every three years
■ Seasonal influenza – annual
■ Covid-19 vaccine – annual Preventive centers responsible for vaccinating pilgrims must submit weekly statistics to the Infectious Diseases Control Department by telephone and in writing; including the number of vaccinated people, those who completed the vaccinations, and stock of vaccinations for pilgrims according to the centers through the forms distributed by the Public Health Department with the approval of the head of the Public Health Services Department in the region.

The medical team of the Kuwaiti Hajj delegation, whose tasks include ensuring that all members of the delegation are examined and vaccinated in coordination with the Ministry of Endowments in the State of Kuwait, while ensuring that Kuwaiti Hajj caravans fulfill all the health requirements, especially those related to the place of residence, food safety and health care. They should guarantee the availability of medical supplies and medicines for the medical team’s doctors, along with the requirements for dealing with any medical emergency, as well as providing appropriate medical care for Kuwaiti pilgrims and adhering to the medical or health requirements specified by the official authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially during the performance of Hajj rituals, and immediately reporting diseases among Kuwaiti pilgrims as per the health regulations set by the Saudi authorities.

Ample supply of rifampicin/ciprofloxacin should be provided to the caravans, as it is recommended that they should be distributed as preventive treatment for pilgrims in the last two days before they leave the Holy Land to reduce the rate of carrying the microbe that causes meningitis All doctors in the government and private sectors need to take into account the health procedures, such that primary health care doctors in the centers or any licensed doctor must fill out the section related to clinical medical data on the Hajj card with his signature, his official seal, and the official seal of the entity to which he belongs. As for vaccination data and seals, they are the responsibility of the public health sector and preventive centers, as stated in the first clause.

Doctors must also advise individuals who suffer from diseases that conflict with the minimum physical ability, including diseases that often prevent the pilgrim from performing the rituals; such as kidney failure, heart failure, chronic lung diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, dementia and other diseases hindering the performance of the rituals to postpone Hajj due to the risk of them suffering from health problems while performing the rituals. It is also recommended not to take children below five years old due to the possibility of them being exposed to acute respiratory diseases that pose a threat to the child’s health or other childhood diseases. Pilgrims should be made aware of the importance of following health instructions to prevent diseases transmitted through droplets or contact; such as meningitis, influenza, Covid-19 and other infectious respiratory diseases, intestinal diseases and others, in addition to the precautionary health instructions circulated by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

They should wear a mask in public and crowded places, maintain cleanliness and wash hands with soap and water or disinfectant frequently, especially when touching the nose, eyes, mouth and surfaces contaminated with respiratory secretions. When they sneeze or cough, they must use tissues to cover the mouth and nose to avoid spreading diseases. They must consult a doctor if they feel symptoms of infectious respiratory diseases and avoid contact with people who exhibit symptoms of infectious respiratory diseases as much as possible. The family members of pilgrims (contacts of pilgrims), who have not been vaccinated or were vaccinated more than five years ago, should be vaccinated with a single dose of conjugated meningeal allograft (ACWY).

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