Which Vaccines Do I Need For Hajj? April 15, 2016 By Will Sowards 1 Comment The Centers For Disease Control and Saudi Government Recommend The Following Immunizations: Typhoid– A common foodborne illness. Polio– While not required for U.S. citizens, it is highly recommended. Meningitis– Recommended and required for some visitors Hepatitis A– Another foodborne illness common to the region. Routine Vaccinations– These include the MMR and flu vaccines and are very important to have. Others may be recommended based on your personal health history The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the most important parts of the Islamic religion. Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford to do so is required to make Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. This pilgrimage to various locations in Saudi Arabia can be demanding, and there is some preparation that is required before leaving. A recent release by the Saudi government made some changes to the vaccination and health policy in relation to Hajj. In addition to those requirements, there are also some recommendations from the Kingdom and other health organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that all travelers should heed: Meningitis Vaccine Requirement Visitors to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj are required to submit a certificate of vaccination against meningitis issued no more than 3 years ago nor less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. This is a requirement to enter the country, and those who do not have proof of vaccination will either not be permitted entry or be required to receive immediate vaccination upon arrival. Often, especially in North America, individuals receive these vaccinations as children or young adults and may be traveling outside of the 3 year span. If this is the case, you are still required to be vaccinated again and to show proof of such. While this may seem like an extreme measure, there have been meningitis outbreaks in Saudi Arabia due to the mass concentration of people for the Hajj. In the last decade there have been in at least three instances more than 1,000 cases due to the pilgrimage. Possible Yellow Fever Requirement While yellow fever isn’t present in Saudi Arabia, the country still has rules regarding vaccination. If you are entering the Kingdom from any country that has yellow fever, you will be required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. This will not affect most travelers from North America. However, if you happen to be traveling to Saudi Arabia from a different country, such as making a stop over in Kenya before going there, proof of the Yellow Fever vaccine will be required. Avoiding Stomach Bugs Foodborne illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis A can be common among pilgrims during Hajj. Be careful what you eat and avoid questionable establishments. While hepatitis A and typhoid will protect you against these two infections, there is very little protection against traveler’s diarrhea. Products like DiaResQ may not be able to prevent diarrhea, but it will help stop it once it starts. The is even more important for those taking the pilgrimage. Travel Flu Free The Saudi Ministry recommends that international pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before arriving in the country. This is to protect those most at risk as well as to avoid an outbreak during the Hajj. Being in close proximity with others is standard during the Hajj, and protection against any virus is very important. There are a variety of influenza vaccine options that can suit various needs. Please see our influenza page for more information. Routine Prevention The Saudi government has many restrictions on travelers from the developing world, especially Africa, but many of these do not exist for North Americans going on Hajj. That being said, routine vaccinations like polio and hepatitis A and B are highly recommended. As with influenza vaccination, this vaccination is precautionary, but it may be very necessary. The CDC points out that hepatitis B can be prevalent especially among men who shave their heads immediately after the pilgrimage (mainly due to contaminated blades). Take proper precautions while in country, but also prepare before you go through timely vaccination. Do I Need A Visa For Hajj? Yes, a visa is required for travel to Saudi Arabia including for Hajj. If you have not already obtained your visa, Passport Health’s Passport and Visa expediting service can help. Contact our expert team to learn more. Physical Preparedness Hajj can be physically taxing. Most travelers when they arrive go immediately to the great mosque and perform a tawaf during which they circle the Ka’aba seven times counterclockwise. Because of the enormous number of people (sometimes as many as 750,000) the seven revolutions can take hours. There is a large amount of walking during the pilgrimage, and, while the Saudi government has done much to make it as easy as possible, it can still be a difficult trek. Be sure you are physically prepared before embarking on the Hajj. For more information on Hajj requirements and recommendations, see the Kingdom’s Hajj and Umrah page. For more information on meningitis, influenza or routine vaccinations, see their respective pages on our site. Are you planning a Hajj trip? Let us know! On Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. We’d love to feature you in our Share Your Journey content. Reprinting or republication of this post on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to Passport Health, at the beginning or end of the post. "Which Vaccines Do I Need For Hajj? is republished with permission of Passport Health." 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