All the pilgrims need to be fit for Hajj as the pilgrimage can be arduous even for the fittest pilgrim. The crowded conditions at the Hajj sites, accommodation and public transport put them at increased risk of contracting communicable diseases. Large scale epidemics of meningitis have been associated with the Hajj pilgrimage at first due to group A bacteria and later to group W1 which are particularly dominant in sub-Saharan Africa. Cases of meningococcal disease have also occurred world-wide after pilgrims returned to their native countries. Immunization is the only way to control this disease which is why quadrivalent ACWY vaccination for pilgrims on Hajj and Umrah is a compulsory entry requirement into Saudi Arabia as well as for other travellers who visit during the Hajj season. The vaccination protects against meningitis and septicemia caused by four different strains: A, C, W and Y.
Hajj and Umrah Health Requirements
Pilgrims arriving for Umrah and Hajj as well as those visiting for seasonal work in Hajj zones are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate of Quadrivalent (ACWY) meningococcal vaccine. The certificate must be issued no less than 10 days prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Vaccination with any of the following vaccines is acceptable:
Quadrivalent (ACWY) polysaccharide vaccine (valid for 3 years)
Quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine (valid for 5 years)
Note: If the vaccine type is not specified in the certificate, the certificate will be valid for 3 years.
Vaccination with Quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine is needed for:
- Domestic pilgrims
- Residents of Mecca and Medina
- Any individual who may get in contact with pilgrims including personnel in health-care
[ Read Also: Health & Safety Tips For Hajj & Umrah Travel ]
What Vaccinations are required for Hajj/Umrah Travel?
Regardless of age, all pilgrims are recommended to be vaccinated with ACWY. Pilgrims above the age of two years are required to present the certificate of vaccination before their entry into Saudi Arabia. The vaccine must be administered at least 10 days before arrival. There are two ‘conjugate’ ACWY vaccines available in the United Kingdom, Menveo® and Nimenrix®. The conjugate vaccines have long-lasting protection effect and are effective in babies as young as 2 months of age. Polysaccharide ACWY vaccines are also available in some countries outside of the UK but it lacks a long-lasting effect.
[ Read Also: How to Deal with Menstrual Issues during Hajj ]
How long does Meningitis Vaccination Certificate last?
Pilgrims must ensure that the name of the vaccine received is clearly recorded on the certificate. Certification of conjugate vaccine is valid for 5 years whereas certificates that do not state the name of the vaccine or a polysaccharide vaccine are valid only for 3 years after the date of immunization.
Vaccination for Kids before going for Umrah
It is essential to get the children vaccinated. It is compulsory for infants, children, and even adults to get a vaccination of meningitis ACWY135 before going for Umrah. Children belonging to the age group of 2-15 years must have meningitis and polio vaccinations. The H1N1 vaccine is also required for Umrah.
[ Read Also: Important information on Umrah of Minors or Children ]