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Pilgrims Inoculated with A/H1N1 Vaccine in China's Largest Hui Community

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More than 2,000 Muslims on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia have been inoculated with A/H1N1 vaccine in northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China's largest Hui community, local officials said Monday.

The injection was free of charge, but each of them should pay five yuan (US$0.73) for equipment cost, said Ma Shouyu, head of the administration for religious affairs of Haiyuan County.

One month ago, they were injected with vaccines against ordinary influenza and encephalitis, Ma said.

From October 31 to November 12, the pilgrims will take chartered flights to Mecca, he said.

Ningxia has more than 1.8 million Muslims of Hui ethnic group, which accounts for one third of its total population.

All China's 12,700 Muslims on pilgrimage to Mecca this year will receive A/H1N1 flu inoculations, as the disease has spread to about 170 countries, the China Islamic Association announced earlier this month.

Since 1979, Muslims in China have made the pilgrimage to Mecca every year. In 2008, the number topped 10,000.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2009)