Booster shot mandate for Saudis traveling abroad comes into effect

A Saudi Arabia mandate requiring booster shots for citizens traveling internationally came into effect on Wednesday.

The ministry of interior announced on February 3 that citizens who wish to travel outside the Kingdom from February 9 are required to take a third shot (booster dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine for all journeys.

Those under 16 years of age are exempt from the rule. Similarly, those under the ‘exempt’ category on the Tawakkalna application do not have to get a booster to travel.

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For everyone else, the booster shot is available past three months from the second dose.

These rules have been implemented to reduce COVID-19 infections which are have been rising globally due to the omicron variant.

Strict precautionary measures including face masks and physical distancing have become standard across the country.

One such measure announced on Monday was that all Umrah pilgrims arriving to Saudi Arabia will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test report taken within 48 hours of departing to the Kingdom regardless of their “immune” status, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

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Earlier in February, authorities mandated booster shots in order to be considered “immune” in the country’s contact-tracing Tawakkalna app for those over 18 who were vaccinated more than eight months ago.

COVID-19 numbers hit a record high of nearly 6,000 in mid-January, following which stricter safety measures were reintroduced.

This has resulted in a continuous drop in daily cases into February, with minor fluctuations.

The Kingdom has also successfully administered 58,812,295 vaccine doses to its population, as initially reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

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