Vaccination Requirements When Making Hajj
There are both mandatory and recommended vaccinations necessary when preparing to make the Hajj to the Holy land:
Last Tuesday (September 2) the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health announced that vaccinations against meningitis are mandatory for all local as well as international Hajj pilgrims. Meningitis, which causes inflammation of the brain lining is caused by Neisseria meningitidis and is an airborne organism. The intensely crowded conditions of Hajj facilitate the transmission of this disease. Outbreaks of meningococcal disease have historically been a problem during Hajj. Subsequent to the outbreaks in 2000 and 2001 that affected 1 300 and 1 109 people respectively, the Saudi Health authorities stipulated that Hajj visas could not be issued without proof of vaccination.The vaccination is valid for 3 years and must be administered at least 10 days prior to departure. The vaccine is suitable for all adults and children above the age of 2 years.
Respiratory tract infections are common during Hajj and pneumonia is the most common cause of hospital admissions. Hence, in addition to mandatory vaccines, whilst not compulsory, the Saudi Ministry of Health and CDC also strongly advises the flu vaccine for all pilgrims, especially for high risk individuals who suffer from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, and renal disease which make them more susceptible to pneumonia.
The CDC (Centre For Disease Control, USA) also recommends the Hepatitis A, B and typhoid vaccinations.
And WHO (The World Health Organization) reported that as of May 2014 more than 635 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoC) have been documented in its June 3rd travel advisory on MERS-CoV for pilgrimages. To date there is still no known vaccine against MERS-CoV. Precautions against this disease will be covered in the next article, Health and Hygiene during Hajj, Insha Allah.