All Hajj 2021 pilgrims must have second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Saudi ministry says

Worshippers can go to their nearest immunisation centre to receive the second shot without a prior booking

All the 60,000 people selected to perform Hajj this year must have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday.

This year's pilgrims can go to their nearest clinic and receive a second shot without a reservation, within 48 hours of being given their Hajj permit, the ministry said.

“When the Hajj permit is issued after completing all the procedures, the accepted person who has not completed their vaccination course with two doses must visit one of the Corona vaccine centres, and they will receive a text message informing them,” the ministry said.

Attendance has been limited this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and only Saudi citizens and residents who have had at least one dose of vaccine were allowed to apply online.

The process of whittling down the 558,270 applicants began on Friday, with aspiring pilgrims sorted by health status.

The ministry said priority would be given to those who had not performed Hajj in the past five years and those over the age of 50 who have never made the pilgrimage.

Applications opened on June 13 and more than 450,000 people applied in the first 24 hours.

Only people between the ages of 18 and 65 who were free of chronic disease were allowed to apply.

Hajj, the Arabic word for pilgrimage, is one of the five pillars of Islam and a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for every Muslim who can afford it.

Millions of pilgrims visit Islam’s holiest sites in the cities of Makkah and Madinah each year.

The pilgrimage generates about $12 billion in revenue for the kingdom annually.

Last year, Hajj was restricted to 1,000 domestic pilgrims after Saudi Arabia closed its borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Hajj this year is expected to begin on July 17.

The pilgrimage takes three days but most pilgrims extend their stay to pray in the holy cities.