The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said it is important for those traveling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah pilgrimage to get their booster shots against COVID-19.
HPA said if pilgrims have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and six months have passed since the last dose, it is advisable for them to get the booster shot two weeks before departure from the Maldives. This is especially important for those embarking on the journey during Ramadan, HPA said.
The Saudi Arabian government does not allow those who have not received the two doses of the vaccine and the booster shot within a specified period to perform Umrah. If eight months have passed since receiving the second dose, it must be topped off with a booster shot before traveling.
Health experts say the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is effective for eight months and decreases the chances of testing positive for the virus. However, its effectiveness starts to decline from eight months onwards, increasing the chances of contracting the virus without a booster shot.
In the Maldives, over 143,000 people have received the booster shot thus far.