Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia
This year, the Hajj will take place from October 2nd to October 7th. Crowds at mass gatherings pose unique health risks. A certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent (A, C, Y, W-135) vaccine against meningitis is required no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. The vaccine is good for 3 years.
High-risk areas for meningococcal meningitis include parts of Africa and Saudi Arabia. Vaccination against groups A, C, Y, and W meningitis is recommended for those staying for longer than one month backpacking. Of course, if you are travelling, a consult with a travel clinic doctor is recommended to get the proper prescriptions and vaccinations.
- Travel restrictions: Pilgrims from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone are banned from participating in this Hajj and Umra season. This restriction is in place to avoid global spread of Ebola virus disease from current outbreaks in these countries.
- Influenza: Saudi Arabia recommends (but does not require) seasonal influenza vaccination for all pilgrims, particularly those at increased risk for severe complications.
- Hepatitis A is a strong recommendation.
This vaccine is also highly recommended for all college and university students up to age 24. As group C disease decreases due to vaccination, other groups such as group Y have become more prominent. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all Canadian adolescents receive a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine around the age of 12 years. Ideally, this would be a vaccine containing A, C, Y, W-135.
About 1 in 10 people experience redness and soreness at the site of injection. This usually lasts no more than 24 to 48 hours. Mild fever may also occur, although this is usually more common in young children than in adults. Severe reactions are very rare.