All passengers travelling from the UAE to Jeddah on Etihad Airways will need to have an influenza vaccination certificate to be able to travel. This has been confirmed by the airline in a statement to Khaleej Times.

This comes after UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced mandatory influenza vaccine for pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah starting on March 26.

“In line with regulations applied by the health authorities in the United Arab Emirates, from Tuesday 26 March until further notice, all Etihad Airways guests travelling from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah will need to have an influenza vaccination certificate,” read the statement.

“This certificate needs to be presented at check-in for inspection prior to flying in either paper hard copy or on an approved UAE digital health application.”

However, the statement specified that the ruling is not applicable on some people. “The regulation does not apply to guests in transit whose journey does not originate in the UAE, to residents of the KSA who hold proof of residency, or to those arriving into the UAE from Jeddah.”

Etihad Airways further stated that the safety and security of its passengers and crew remains their number one priority.

MoHAP clarified that individuals who have previously received the influenza vaccine within the past year are exempt from obtaining a new vaccination. Approved vaccination cards can be obtained through the Al Hosn application and presented at travel checkpoints.

Other airlines

In a document issued to travel agents, Air Arabia has stated that passengers traveling from the UAE to Saudi Arabia for Umrah are “recommended” to take their flu vaccination before embarking on their journey.

According to some travel agents, they have also received similar circulars from other airlines like Saudia.

A comment from Emirates Airlines is awaited.

Several passengers have been in a state of limbo since the news was announced on Tuesday. Dubai resident Shaziya is planning to travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah next week via road. “I am not sure if this rule will affect us,” she said. “The rule specifies that the pilgrim should be vaccinated 10 days in advance. We don’t have ten days for our travel now. I am really confused what to do.”

Travel agents had also expressed their concern as to how the rules would be applied to those entering Saudi Arabia on multiple entry visa. “Several visitors to Saudi Arabia now opt for the multiple entry tourist visa," said an agent. "Many of them perform their Umrah on this visa. It is unclear how the mandatory vaccine will be enforced on such people."

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