The health requirements for pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj and Umrah) are published by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation annually.
Hajj and Umrah Vaccination Requirements
Adults and children over the age of 2 years arriving for the purpose of Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage (or for seasonal work in the Hajj area) are required to produce a certificate of vaccination with quadrivalent (ACYW135) polysaccharide vaccine against meningitis which has been issued not more than 3 years and no less than 10 days prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia. Certificates are not normally required from other categories of visitors or expatriate workers.
In the UK, visas will not be issued unless proof of vaccination, at least 10 days prior to the expected date of entry, is submitted with the visa application.
The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health has other vaccination requirements for Hajj pilgrims entering from countries other than the UK:
Yellow Fever - All travellers arriving from countries known to be infected with Yellow Fever (as per WHO) must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate.
View countries with risk yellow fever virus transmission.
Poliomyelitis - All travellers arriving from countries that have polio virus circulating or from countries at high risk of re-importation of polio virus regardless of age and vaccination status, should receive one dose of oral polio vaccine.
View affected countries at the World Health Organisation (external link).
The Above Vaccines and nessesary paperwork for travel for Hajj and Umrah are availble from the manichem branches listed at the top of this page. Please contact your branch for more details.
Please see below for more essential information for pilgrims travelling for Hajj and Umrah.
All travellers should ensure that they are up-to-date with the recommended immunisations for life in the UK e.g. 5 doses of tetanus vaccine and five doses of polio vaccine. If it has been more than 10 years since the traveller's last dose of polio vaccine a booster dose should be given. The pre travel consultation also provides a good opportunity to check a traveller's history of measles and influenza immunisation.
The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends seasonal influenza vaccine for Hajj attendees before arrival, especially for those at increased risk e.g. the elderly, those with chronic chest or heart disease, diabetes or immunosuppression.
Updating immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases in all travellers is strongly recommended. With the recent resurgence of measles and rubella cases, special attention is needed for both of these diseases to avoid widespread outbreaks during this year's Hajj and Umrah. Check that travellers are immune, either by previous immunisation (2 doses or MMR) or natural measles infection.
Other vaccine recommendations for Saudi Arabia are available on the country record.
Other Health Risks
Malaria risk is present throughout the year but mainly from September to January. The risk is found in the south western region except high altitude areas of Asir Province and the cities of Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and Taif.
Hajj pilgrims, many travel between Mecca and Medina. The risk of malaria is low in both cities and antimalarial prophylaxis is not advised while in either city. However, the journey between them passes through an area of high risk for malaria. The journey takes 6 hours by road. If it is undertaken during the daytime, in an air conditioned vehicle from which mosquitoes can be excluded, the risk of malaria is very low and it is reasonable to practice bite avoidance only.
Note: Bite avoidance measures are important for the prevention of other mosquito-borne infections present in Saudi Arabia e.g. dengue fever.
Diarrhoeal disease is common during Hajj and all travellers are at risk, but the risk is greatest for those consuming food which has been contaminated during preparation or storage, unpasteurised dairy products, raw unpeeled fruit and vegetables or contaminated water. In practice, those travelling on low budgets are at greatest risk. Diarrhoeal disease may be more severe in young children, the elderly and those with underlying health problem who may become rapidly and dangerously dehydrated.
Even during the winter months temperatures during the day in Saudi Arabia can reach 30°C. This can put pilgrims at risk of sunburn, sunstroke, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and dehydration. Hajj pilgrims may spend a lot of time walking and good quality footwear should be worn as the sand in the desert can get very hot and burn the feet; this is particularly important for those with diabetes. To ensure that shoes do not get lost when removed for prayer they should be kept in a small bag.
Ideally pilgrims should arrive in time to allow acclimatisation to the hot conditions before undertaking Hajj. Pilgrims should be advised to rest, maintain good hydration with safe liquids, seek shade where possible and use a sunscreen factor 15 or higher. In recent years the Saudi Ministry has endeavoured to provide shade in densely populated areas. Pilgrims can also create shade by using an umbrella. Some rituals can be performed in the evening to avoid high daytime temperatures; Saudi authorities have decreed that pilgrims can perform the Stoning of the Devil anytime between sunrise and sunset.
Note: In the winter months the temperature during the night can fall to a very low level and pilgrims should be prepared for this by having sufficient warm bedding and clothing with them.
At the end of Hajj, Muslim men shave their heads, and unclean blades can transmit blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Licensed barbers are tested for these blood-borne pathogens and are required to use disposable, single-use blades. Unlicensed barbers continue to operate by the roadside, where they may use unsterile blades on multiple men. Male travelers should be advised to be shaved only at officially designated centers, which are clearly marked or carry their own razor for personal use.
Our Pharmacist can give you advice on travelling for Hajj & Umrah.