Travel Medicine: Meningitis Vaccine Mandatory For Hajj

by | Jul 3, 2019 | News, Travel Medicine & Vaccines

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The meningitis ACYW135 vaccine is not optional

If you’re a Muslim heading to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah you absolutely must get vaccinated for Meningococcal meningitis.

This isn’t a recommendation or something to consider: It is mandatory.

In order to enter Saudi Arabia for Hajj, you must provide proof that you’ve been vaccinated against meningitis.

The “proof” is the valid international certificate of vaccination you get from TMVC.

So one more time, if you don’t get the meningitis vaccine for Hajj, you cannot get an entry visa, and no visa means no entry!

Why is the meningitis vaccine mandatory?

Because meningitis outbreaks have happened before at Hajj, and because the crowded conditions are perfect for the transmission of disease.

For five straight days millions of pilgrims will jostle against each other as they make the 30 mile pilgrimage from the Great Mosque of Mecca to Mount Arafat and back.

They will eat, drink, pray, socialize, circle the Kaaba and “stone the devil” together as they perform the rites of Hajj.

However, TMVC Medical Director Dr. Gio Miletto says living at close quarters like this also increases the incidence of disease:

“You get meningitis from being around other people that carry the disease. Sneezing, coughing and close contact with other people are the main way it spreads. Vaccination is the only way to prevent meningitis for which there is no reliable treatment.”

Do my children need the meningitis vaccine?

Yes they do!

If your children are aged 15 or younger, they will need to be immunized against Meningococcal meningitis.

You will also need to make sure they are up-to-date with their routine polio shot.

If your children are over age 15, they will need to get the same meningitis vaccine as adults.

And like adults, these shots must be administered at least 10 days prior to the planned arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Do I need other types of vaccinations or travel medicine?

We highly recommend it!

The Hajj is one of the largest annual mass gatherings of people in the world which means you’ll likely be exposed to other illnesses, viruses and diseases.

As a result, TMVC Director of Nursing, Colleen Jeffery, is advising travellers to book a consult to discuss vaccines and travel meds that will help you avoid getting sick while overseas:

“The Hajj is such a unique situation, huge numbers of people in a really concentrated space. You need to think about getting vaccinated for Hep A & B due to the potential for poor sanitation and because you may be exposed to blood & other bodily fluids. You need to ensure your polio, tetanus and diphtheria are up-to-date. Diarrhea is also common, as is influenza.”

Jeffries is also warning pilgrims to be aware of Saudi Arabia’s blazing desert sun and oppressive heat:

“This year Hajj runs from August 9-14th which means day time temperatures will be approaching 50C! In heat like this, you need to think safety-first in order to avoid heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn.”

So drink lots of water, use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, stay in the shade when possible and think about taking a sun umbrella.

And don’t forget to come see us. 🙂

We’ll make sure you’re prepared for a happy healthy Hajj!

Learn more about the TMVC vaccine for Hajj

Helpful Hajj info

For an overview of the health requirements and recommendations for travellers going to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah click here.

And click here for the government of Canada website which also has lots of useful information about Hajj and Saudi Arabia in general.




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