Individuals embarking on pilgrimage have once again been met with confusion, as vaccination documentation required for Saudi Arabian visa approvals has recently not been readily available. Following weeks of discussion about the increase in visa charges, last week the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) voiced concern at the reported scarcity of the yellow card, which details required vaccinations for individuals travelling to the Kingdom.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat, Sahuc president, Shaheen Essop explained that Saudi authorities have indicated that individuals travelling from Africa and South East Asia require a yellow fever vaccination, in addition to a meningitis vaccination.
“In recent days, they have implemented a more forceful approach to monitoring this in that they would not provide a visa to anybody entering the country for umrah for haj without that vaccination card – so vaccination cards need to be in the passport when it is submitted for visa’s,” he said.
Based on information received from medical practitioners, Essop notes that there appears to be a shortage of yellow cards from suppliers.
He confirmed that Sahuc has informed the Saudi Embassy of the matter and requested that the Embassy accept confirmation of the lack of availability of yellow cards on a letterhead from a medical practitioner, accompanied by the necessary information.
“Absolutely, [the letter] will be accepted for the purpose of the necessary visa, which is placed into the passport. However, if the yellow cards become available, then the information on that particular letter needs to be transferred into the yellow card,” he noted.
While the availability of the yellow cards is not within the ambit of SAHUC, Essop says that according to information released by the suppliers, the earliest release date is next week Friday, November 18, 2016.
According to a statement released by SAHUC, the Saudi Embassy has agreed to SAHUC’s request and has advised that the doctor’s letter include the following:
• That the doctor (full name) hereby confirms that the passenger (full name and passport number) has taken the yellow fever and meningitis vaccines on (date).
• The batch number needs to be included as well
• This signed letter on the doctor’s letterhead needs to accompany the passport to the embassy when applying for a VISA