Saudi to require polio vaccine for Hajj pilgrims

At the Clinton Global Initiative, The United Nations Foundation (which supports this blog) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a $30 million program to eradicate polio.

As it stands, polio is close to being wiped off the map. There were only some 1650 cases reported in 2008. About 90% of those cases originated from countries where polio remains endemic: India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The money will largely directed to polio eradication campaigns in those four countries.

Interestingly, as part of the commitment to eradicate polio, Saudi Arabia announced that it is requiring every pilgrim entering Mecca will to receive the polio vaccine.  From the release.

In addition to the financial commitment, Saudi Arabia, the Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques, is also requiring every pilgrim entering the Kingdom for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, to receive a polio vaccination. By raising awareness about the importance of polio immunizations among Muslim pilgrims, the Kingdom is helping to dispel misconceptions about the safety of vaccines and is underscoring that polio immunizations are not only appropriate, but essential.

Learn more about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.