Vaccinations for Hajj
The prevalent mass gathering of Hajj congregates millions of Muslims from all parts of the world. The execution of the rituals demands a good deal of physical exertion and during that time frame the intensely crowded condition invokes the risk of several communicable diseases. Concerning the health of pilgrims to ensure their safe stay and return, the Saudi Ministry of Health has chalked out certain guidelines and immunizations generally required by all the pilgrims and some country-specific vaccinations too to scrape off the threats coupled with transmittable diseases.
All travellers are expected to be up to date with immunizations that are considered a routine and it turns out to be a high recommendation to meet your GP or travel nurse to thrash out any health related issues, medical history and vaccine record. More than a thousand pharmacies are actively operating throughout the United Kingdom to assist you through this process. In Mosques and several community centers, community vaccination clinics are held to receive your vaccines particularly before travelling for Hajj or Umrah.
Historically, the outbreaks of meningococcal disease drew the concerns of the authorities for its life-threatening nature. Conclusively, after a substantial amount of research, the Meningococcal Vaccine was made mandatory for the travelers of Hajj and without a proof of its vaccine Hajj visa cannot be issued. The intended pilgrims must take this vaccination not less than 10 days and not more than 3 years before departure. Children lying in the age group between 3 months and 2 years need two doses of the vaccine, separated by 3 months. At least three or four weeks before your travel, call for an appointment with your GP to immune you against the four groups of meningitis called quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine.
Yellow fever and Poliomyelitis
Please note that pilgrims from UK are exempt from both the above vaccines.
Vaccine against Respiratory Infections:
Most patients admitted to hospitals for respiratory infections are of pneumonia and this accentuates the need of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination for the older pilgrims aged more than 65 years. Seasonal influenza immunization in recommended for all the pilgrims irrespective of their age.
MERS Corona Virus
MERS Corona Virus, that has spread in KSA in 2014, is a viral disease and hence does not have a vaccine. However, there are certain precautions that can be taken to prevent one’s self from getting MERS.
- Wash hands with soap and water or disinfectant, especially after coughing and sneezing.
- Use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them appropriately.
- Avoid hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid direct contact with those showing symptoms of respiratory or other infections.
- Practice good food safety – avoid undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, wash fruit and vegetables properly before eating them and avoid unpasteurised milk or milk products, including camel’s milk.
- Wear facemasks, especially when in crowded places.
- Maintain good personal hygiene.
- Avoid contact with animals.
Routine Vaccinations and Medications:
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid kind of diseases against which the vaccinations are regularly given in UK, still need to be discusses with your GP. As a precuatinery measure, you should take vaccination for seasonal influenza and measles and rubella (MRM) shot. This is specially advised for the already sick and elderly.
Ensure adequate fluid intake during your stay in Saudi Arabia because of dry dessert-like hot weather to keep yourself safe from Traveler’s Diarrhea. Antidiarrheal drugs are advisable to carry along.
The urban regions of Makkah, Medina and Jeddah are free from the risks of Malaria and the travelers who plan to roam around only these three cities do not need Malaria Prophylaxis. However if you plan on visiting some other country on your way back then your GP can guide you concerning the required immunizations according to your travel plan.
Medical attention is advised to be sought if any serious symptoms show up. Ministry of Hajj has set up free hospitals at different places to provide you with medical assistance throughout your stay.
Furthermore, on your return home, if you suffer from persistent coughing (lasting for more than 3 weeks), diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice or fever together with night sweats, immediately get yourself checked by the general physician.
Stay informed on health and safety issues for travelers to Saudi Arabia to keep yourself and your family protected before, during and after pilgrimage.