What is the Hajj?
Every year, between 2 – 3 million people from across the world gather in Mecca for the Hajj. This annual event in Saudi Arabia is a pilgrimage which Muslims are expected to make at least once during their lifetime. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is the largest single gathering of people on the planet with an estimated attendance of 3 million.
With 3 million people congregating in one place food and waterborne or have blood/ bodily fluid transmission of diseases should all be given careful consideration.
Reduce your risk of infection
It is recommended that all normal childhood vaccines are up to date including your MMR and if it has been more than 10 years since you had a Tetanus/diphtheria/polio booster then this should be given.
In addition, an up to date Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended. Hepatitis A is caught from dirty food and water and whether you stay in a 5-star hotel or eat street food, you don’t know whether the person preparing your food has washed their hands. A bought of Hepatitis A could leave you initially with severe upset tummy, headaches and vomiting and can cause liver problems.
As part of Hajj, male pilgrims are expected to shave their head. Hepatitis B is contracted from blood, blood products and bodily fluids. If you are intending on having your head shaved then you should ensure you only visit a designated barber and see a new razor opened. One that has previously been used by another client could potentially have infected blood on it.
MERS coronavirus is an acute respiratory infection and it is high risk in Saudi Arabia. Although it is still not certain how this is caught, the following should be considered whilst in the country:
- Avoid close contact with people with coughs and colds
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid under-cooked meats, raw unpeeled fruits and vegetables, and unsafe water
- Avoid contact with camels
- Be aware that people with other health issues are at high risk of severe symptoms
- See your GP on return if you experience any symptoms
Finally, The Embassy of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia states that a Meningitis ACWY immunisation must be given at least ten days before travelling and certificate is needed to gain a Visa for entry.
Meningitis is caught through close respiratory contact with infected people and is at high risk at an event of this magnitude.
Here, at The Medical, we can offer the travel vaccines you require, including the Meningitis ACWY, with the required certificate and any further health advice you may need ahead of your trip. To book your appointment, please get in touch by calling us on 03303 334 123.