Going for Hajj or Umrah?
One of the key preparations before performing the Hajj or umrah is getting the necessary vaccinations. With a large congregation of about 2 million Muslims in the Holy Land every year, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health keeps a close watch on health requirements to prevent turning the Holy Land into a hotspot of infectious disease.
Some vaccines are made mandatory before one can perform the Hajj, such as that for meningococcal disease. Others, though not compulsory, are highly recommended by the Saudi Health Ministry.
Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD)
Adults and children above 2 years old arriving for the Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage (or for seasonal work in the Hajj area) are required to produce a vaccination certificate of the quadrivalent vaccine against IMD which has been issued not more than 3 years and no less than 10 days ago prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia.
The vaccines of choice are the Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines (MCV) which can be administered to children below 2 years to confer immune memory and herd immunity. Three choices are available for use; Menveo (Glaxo Smith Kline); Menactra (Sanofi Pasteur) and Nimenrix (Pfizer).
These conjugate vaccines replace the older Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccines (MPSV), which can only be used after 2 years of age and does not confer immune memory or herd immunity. The MPSV includes Menomune (Sanofi Pasteur) and Mencevax (Pfizer).