by Elizabeth Cole September 18th, 2009
It now appears that the Saudi government is going to require all pilgrims from Britain to provide a certification of their vaccinations. These vaccinations need to be at least two weeks old and must be done before they are allowed to apply for a Hajj visa.
Brits will also need to be vaccinated against the H1N1 pandemic flu virus if a vaccine becomes universally available before the pilgrimage in November. This is a direct result from the fears of the global swine flu outbreak that have been hurting travel all over the world.
On top of this, The World Health Organization and Saudi Arabia are advising groups at high risk from flu not to attend Hajj for their own safety. This includes people who have chronic diseases, children, elderly people, and pregnant women.
So why the big jump in safety measurements all of the sudden? Well these new safety precautions come during a time when each year almost two million Muslims from all over the world converge on Mecca, which is the holiest place in Islam to take part in a pilgrimage. Since so many people will be gathering together from so many different areas of the world, some are afraid that it could help the swine flu spread even more.
Shahid Malik, the communities minister, said that the measures have been introduced because of the risks that are associated with such a large amount of people getting together. He said that it is inevitable a virus would spread very quickly at an event where two million people come together. This is even more a concern with the swine flu out there.