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Health conditions for travellers to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca

23 september 2011
86th year No. 39 , 2011, 86, 425–436

This publication in the Weekly Epidemiological Record is to inform visitors of the full requirements for entry into Saudi Arabia; it does not imply an endorsement by WHO of all measures stipulated. The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia has issued the following requirements and recommendations for entry visas for the Hajj and Umra seasons in 2011…

II. Meningococcal meningitis

(A) For all arrivals Visitors from all over the world arriving for the purpose of Umra or pilgrimage or for seasonal work are required to produce a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine against meningitis issued not More than 3 years previously and not less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. The responsible authorities in the visitor’s country of origin should ensure that adults and children over the age of 2 years are given 1 dose of the quadrivalent polysaccharide (ACYW135) vaccine.

(B) For arrivals from countries in the African meningitis belt, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger,
Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

In addition to the above stated requirements, chemoprophylaxis will be administered at port of entry to all arrivals from these countries to lower the carriers rate among them. Adults will receive ciprofloxacin tablets (500mg), children will receive rifampicin, and pregnant women will receive ceftriaxone injections.

(C) Interior pilgrims and the Hajj workers Vaccination with quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine is required for:

  • all citizens and residents of Medina and Mecca who have not been vaccinated during the past 3 years;
  • all citizens and residents undertaking the Hajj;
  • all Hajj workers who have not been vaccinated in the past 3 years;
  •  any individual working at entry points or in direct contact with pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

IV. Seasonal influenza

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia recommends that international pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before arrival into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia with WHO approved strains specific to the northern or southern hemispheres, particularly those with pre-existing conditions (e.g. the elderly over 65 years of age, people with neurological or metabolic diseases, chronic respiratory or heart diseases, hepatic or renal failure, diabetes, obesity, immunodeficiency caused by HIV or cancer treatment and pregnant women.

In Saudi Arabia, seasonal influenza vaccine is recommend for internal pilgrims, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions, and all health staff working in the Hajj premises.

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