For pilgrims about to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, flu shots should be considered for minimizing the risk of devastating global influenza pandemic because only too few of the worshippers are being vaccinated before they go - says the British doctors.
The hajj pilgrimage is considered to be one of the largest annual gathering of people attracting more than two million pilgrims from around the world. "Though the journey is spiritual, but the gathering also facilitates the spread of the influenza virus", wrote Prof. Aziz Sheikh of the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues in an editorial for December issue of British Medical Journal.
The hajj pilgrimage, this year will start by December 28 and last for seven days and at the end of January, two million Muslim pilgrims from various countries will converge on Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca, the final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad.
Sheikh and his co-authors also have suggested tighter surveillance to identify new strains of flu during the pilgrimage. The World Health Organization should work with Saudi authorities to minimize the risk of influenza spreading, they added.