Covid-19: Health Ministry urges Haj pilgrims to get boosted before departure

PETALING JAYA: Haj pilgrims are recommended to get their Covid-19 vaccine booster inoculation before departure to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection, says the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pic), in a statement Saturday (May 21), said that the Saudi Arabia government has outlined that Haj pilgrims are required to complete their vaccinations, while the Covid-19 vaccine booster shot was encouraged.

He said the ministry has also encouraged all Haj pilgrims aged 60 and above, as well as those 18 to 59 years old with clinical risk of severe disease to get the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

“This measure is to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection among the pilgrims when at the Holy Land by taking account of the large gatherings involving pilgrims from all over the world,” he said.

As an additional measure, Khairy said that all pilgrims aged 12 to 18 years old are encouraged to get their Covid-19 vaccine booster shot five months after receiving the second dose of the primer Covid-19 vaccine.

He added that teenagers who have completed their primer vaccination and have been infected with Covid-19, are eligible to receive the booster dose once fully recovered from the infection.

“Given that the pilgrims also need to take other injections such as meningococcal, influenza or pneumococcal, the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose can be administered within two weeks before or after another vaccine is given.

“The pilgrims involved can get a booster dose directly without an appointment or walk-in at operating PPVs by bringing relevant supporting documents, such as the offer letter to perform Haj,” he said.

The Health Ministry added that the Haj quota offered to the country this year, which is similar to other countries, is limited to only 45% of the quota in 2019, with 14,306 pilgrims compared to 31,600 pilgrims in 2019.