Tuesday, 23 January 2018 10:02 GMT

Saudi Arabia lets countries decide on vaccination

(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Saudi authorities have allowed countries to act on their own about vaccinating pilgrims against H1N1 because the vaccine came late, a senior Saudi official has said. "The vaccine was made available in the market four weeks later than expected. The pilgrims are to be vaccinated two weeks before their arrival in Saudi Arabia. So, we left it to the countries to decide on the vaccination," said Dr Ziad Ahmed Memish, Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Medicine in Saudi Arabia. He was talking to the media on the sidelines of the fourth annual meeting of GCC Center for Infection Control being held at The Ritz-Carlton. There had been reports earlier that Saudi was planning to make the vaccination mandatory for all pilgrims. The health authorities in Qatar have now made it clear that the vaccine is optional, although it is strongly recommended for the pilgrims. Addressing the meeting earlier, Memish said Saudi Arabia had been working actively for the past few months on preparations to receive pilgrims from 160 countries across the globe. The government has tripled the number of healthcare workers to meet any emergency and increased the number of beds in healthcare facilities in Makkah, Mina, Madinat and Arafat. It has also increased the supply of tamiflu, relenza as well as vaccines for H1N1 for the public as well as the health care facilities. The number of laboratories has been increased from one- in Jeddah- to almost 17 throughout the pilgrim route. This will help to undertake thousands of tests on confirmed H1N1 cases. Thermal cameras have been installed at all entry points. All suspected cases will be taken to a specialised facility. If proved positive, they will be given proper care and treatment. When they get better or when their condition stabilizes, they would be able to rejoin their group in Mecca, said Memish.

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