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Oral Polio Vaccine Necessary for Haj Pilgrims

The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have taken a decision that all Haj Pilgrims from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan regardless //of age and vaccination status should receive at least one dose of Oral Polio Vaccine prior to departure for Saudi Arabia. This decision was conveyed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through Ministry of External Affairs on November 21, 2006.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has immediately asked all State Governments to make necessary arrangements at all the health facilities for 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 OPV before departure and the vaccination certificates are issued to them. Flights carrying Haj pilgrims take off from the following airports: Aurangabad; Nagpur; Mumbai; Delhi; Lucknow; Srinagar; Bangalore; Calicut; Jaipur; Kolkatta; Guwahati; Patna; Chenani; Hyderabad; Ahmedabad.

Immunisation of all travellers prior to departure will minimize 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.

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