Meningitis Jab Now Mandatory for All haj Pilgrims, Flu vaccine recommended - September 2015
Meningitis is a serious viral and bacterial infectious disease that causes inflammation of the meninges in the Central Nervous System.
The Saudi Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday September 1, that vaccination against meningitis is mandatory for all local and international Hajj pilgrims.
Taking the flu shot is also recommended, in addition to quarantine requirements for foreign pilgrims depending on the country they live in, according to officials.
“Vaccination should be taken at least 10 days before pilgrims arrive into the holy cities,” Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mirghalani told Arab News.
“Vaccination against meningitis is valid only for a period of three years.”
Mirghalani pointed out that meningitis, a serious condition, may spread during Hajj because of pilgrims coming from endemic countries.
“Congestion and overcrowding facilitates the transmission of the disease,” he said. “The vaccine is given to adults and children over the age of two, but is not administered on pregnant women.”
Mirghalani said the ministry’s national scientific committee, which acts as a command center for the pilgrimage, monitors pilgrims arriving from around the globe to keep a tab on all infectious diseases.
He pointed out that the health requirements for this year focused on several diseases, such as Ebola, coronavirus, yellow fever, meningitis, polio and vaccination against seasonal influenza virus.
He noted that quarantine requirements for issuing Hajj visas have been circulated to Saudi overseas missions through the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Riyadh.
Yellow fever-endemic countries are Angola, Benin, Sudan, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon, Burundi, Chad, Uganda, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Kenya, Liberia, Sao Tomé and Principe, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mali, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia, Suriname, Peru, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay.
Pilgrims who apply for Hajj visas should attach a vaccination form against fever in these countries.
An oral dose of polio is also compulsory for pilgrims coming from Uganda, Kenya, Benin, Angola, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, CAR, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia regardless of their age.
Besides these vaccinations, the spokesman advised pilgrims to take precautions against influenza to prevent flu during their stay in the Kingdom.
The flu vaccine is not mandatory, but is strongly advised considering present weather conditions and the susceptibility of pilgrims to influenza.
High-risk patients who have chronic ailments, such as diabetes, hypertension and renal diseases, have been advised to take the flu vaccine, which will help them to perform Hajj and Umrah rituals more efficiently.
Mirghalani reminded pilgrims to pack edible items in tightly sealed in containers.