Give the gift of influenza vaccine to your family this Hajj and Umrah season.

Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage is often a one-in-a-lifetime chance for majority of Muslims, including your own family. If any of your family members are planning to perform the Hajj or Umrah this year, you can help them to stay healthy throughout the pilgrimage by making sure that they receive influenza vaccination.

Why Influenza Vaccination?

 Influenza or flu is a viral infection that commonly affects Hajj and Umrah pilgrims[1]. It is often  mistaken as a common cold[2]. Influenza outbreaks are common during Hajj and Umrah season[1],[3]. Infected pilgrims may experience symptoms such as[4]:

Coughs Runny nose  
Headache Fatigue
Vomiting Diarrhea
Fever Sore throat
Muscle aches

Risk Factors and Complications

Infected individuals are vulnerable to serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and ear infection [4]. If your family members are among those who are elderly or have chronic diseases, especially chronic lung diseases, they are at high risk of getting complications and secondary infections that can lead to hospital admission [5].

Adding to the concern, influenza can be fatal. In 2017, 22% of deaths reported among Hajj pilgrims were due to respiratory tract infection[6]. Influenza infection is easily transmittable and many do not realize the importance of getting treatment until it is too late. Delayed treatment for influenza infection has been shown to contribute to higher mortality rate among influenza patients[7].

How Vaccine Helps

Malaysian and Saudi Arabia health authorities recommend influenza vaccination for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims[1],[8]. A study on Malaysian pilgrims discovered that influenza vaccination is 50-60% effective in preventing pneumonia and hospitalisation, as well as 80% effective in preventing mortality for individuals older than 60 years[9].

In the midst of the bliss and anticipation of receiving the long awaited opportunity to perform the fifth pillar of Islam, one should make sure that their health is listed as the top priority in their preparation before taking off to the holy land. Hence, remind your family members to get influenza vaccination at least two weeks before the beginning of the journey[10]. Even better, bring them to the nearest clinic or hospital to get vaccinated as a sign of your love and care for them. It may be just a small gesture of love but your gift of influenza vaccination may help them to complete their Hajj and Umrah.

This article is brought to you by “Imunisasi Haji and Umrah” campaign organised by Immunise4Life in collaboration with Family Medicine Specialist Association of Malaysia (FMSA), Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA). Supported by Sanofi Pasteur Malaysia.

[1]Zeitouni, M.O. et al. (2015). The Saudi Thoracic Society guidelines for influenza vaccinations. Ann Thorac Med. 10(4): 223-230.
[2]CDC (2018). Cold Versus Flu. Retrieved June 7, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm
[3]Balkhy HH et al. (2004). Influenza a common viral infection among Hajj pilgrims: time for routine surveillance and vaccination. J Travel Med. 11(2):82-86.
[4]CDC (2017). Flu Symptoms & Complications. Retrieved May 7, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/symptoms.htm
[5]Nichol et al. (1999). Relation between Influenza Vaccination and Outpatient Visits, Hospitalization, and Mortality in Elderly Persons with Chronic Lung Disease. Annals of Internal Medicine. 130(5):397-403.
[6]Tabung Haji. (2018). Data on file.
[7]Marta Rorat et al. (2013). The Clinical Course of Late Diagnosed Fatal Cases of A (H1N1) Influenza in Poland. Journal of Advances in Hygiene and Experimental Medicine Vol 67. pp595-600.
[8]MSIDC. (2016). Influenza. In Guidelines for Adult Immunisation 2nd Edition (pp 81). Cheras: Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
[9]Rahman J et al. (2017). Mass Gatherings and Public Health: Case Studies from the Hajj to Mecca. Annals of Global Health. 83(2):386-393
[10]CDC (2016). Influenza Prevention: Information for Travelers. Retrieved May 7, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/travelers/travelersfacts.htm

SPMY.TRAV.18.07.0165a (10/18)