The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has commenced the vaccination of the 2024 intending pilgrims against polio, meningitis, diphtheria and yellow fever in Kebbi State.

Flagging off the exercise at the Dr. Nasir Idris Hajj Camp in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, on Saturday, the Head of Medical Team for this year’s Hajj, Dr. Sa’id Ahmad, said the vaccines were mandatory for all prospective pilgrims.

Ahmad, who represents the Federal Ministry of Health and Board of Management of NAHCON, said, “I’m here in Kebbi to kick-start the vaccination exercise and ensure that all intending pilgrims are fully immunised in line with the Saudi Arabian Government’s requirements.

“This vaccination is very apt because the first inaugural flight will depart Nigeria on the 15th of this month. Therefore, the need to put this in place is very necessary.

“That’s why we are here in Kebbi to ensure that the yellow cards written by the Federal Ministry of Health are handed over to the pilgrims and the vaccines procured by the same ministry given to the states are used.”

He said the essence of the exercise was to flush out fake yellow cards, as the cards would be digitised to ensure that intending pilgrims are adequately immunised.

Ahmad said it was observed over the years that the mortality being recorded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may not be unconnected to respiratory tract infections.

“Therefore, administering vaccines like influenza will go a long way in reducing the mortality associated with infections during the Hajj cycle,” he said.

The team lead expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation in the public health s sector in Kebbi, adding that the state Pilgrims Board was up and doing and the intending pilgrims were willing and eager to receive the vaccines.

In his speech, the Executive Chairman, Kebbi State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Faruku Aliyu-Enabo appreciated NAHCON and the National Medical Team for doing everything possible to ensure the success of the exercise.

While urging all the prospective pilgrims from Kebbi to take the vaccine, Aliyu-Enabo assured that it was not harmful but meant to give them immunity, while he also expressed satisfaction with the level of recognition accorded to Kebbi State in all aspects of Hajj operations.