Hajj 2024Traveling for Hajj or Umrah? Here is Your Complete Health Guide

Traveling for Hajj or Umrah? Here is Your Complete Health Guide

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Ahead of the Hajj season, about a month ago, Saudi Arabia announced its updated guidelines to be followed by the pilgrims, for the year 2024. Of which, several conditions aimed at ensuring health & safety of pilgrims from across the globe. Below are some of the things to check off your list before leaving for Hajj or Umrah, and after landing in the Kingdom, as per the guidelines issued by the respective authorities.

Although a number of restrictions were lifted post covid, the authorities have mandated and recommended a few vaccinations prior to the pilgrimage.

Checklist of vaccinations for Saudi pilgrims (from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia):

  • Take & complete vaccination doses well in advance. 
  • Must have compulsorily received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, influenza vaccine, and meningitis vaccine each during the past five years.
  • Mandatorily register to Health Ministry’s Sehhaty app to ensure the vaccination status is documented in the application.
Mandatory checklist of vaccinations for International pilgrims (coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia):
  • All individuals of 1 year and above must be vaccinated against Neisseria meningitidis, at least 10 days in advance before the arrival. Ensure, it is not more than five years prior to your arrival.
  • All travelers from states reporting cases of WPV1 or cVDPV1 or cVDPV2 or AFP must be vaccinated against poliomyelitis/polio.
  • All travelers above 9 months of age, from countries at risk of yellow fever transmission must be vaccinated against it.
Recommended checklist of vaccinations for International pilgrims (coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia):
  • All travelers aged 12 and above are recommended to have received doses of vaccine against COVID-19.
  • Travelers vulnerable to contagious seasonal flu — particularly pregnant women, children under 5 years, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions (such as chronic cardiac, pulmonary, renal, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, liver, or hematologic diseases) and individuals with immunosuppressive conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, receiving chemotherapy or steroids, or malignancy) — are recommended to receive Seasonal Influenza vaccine.
  • Travelers are expected to provide the verified certificate of the abovementioned from their respective home countries.
  • Travelers from countries affected with Zika virus disease or Dengue fever shall provide valid certificates  confirming the pilgrim is free from any infectious diseases in accordance with methods recommended by WHO.

The Ministries of Hajj and Umrah, together with the Ministry of Health (MOH), specified and set forth some key health requirements for the 2024 pilgrimage.

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Health requirements for those traveling for Umrah:

  • A pilgrim’s country of origin must ensure that the individual is free from any medical conditions that could affect his/her physical ability.
  • Wear clean and dry masks since there is a  heightened risk of respiratory infectious diseases due to large crowding.
  • Wash hands frequently to prevent spread of infections and bacterias.
  • Ensure the safety of your food before consumption. Make sure there are no contamination sources in your food.
  • Avoid sharing your personal belongings and avoid contact with those who seem ill outwardly. 
  • All pilgrims are recommended to drink sufficient amounts of fluids to stay hydrated in the heat.
  • All individuals, particularly senior citizens, should avoid direct exposure to sun rays while performing rituals.

Health requirements for those traveling for Hajj:

  • The Ministry suggested the pilgrim’s country of origin ensure they are free from any medical conditions that might hinder their Hajj rituals. 
  • Countries are requested to provide education on health-related illness to their citizens before their departure.
  • Pilgrims with chronic diseases are recommended to carry an ample supply of prescribed medications in its original package, and their most recent health condition report. 
  • Pilgrims are advised to take necessary measures to prevent mosquito bites (repellants, protective clothing, etc) to avoid contracting Zika Virus Disease and Dengue Fever.
  • Consult your physicians and make adjustments in your medications if it includes meds that could exacerbate dehydration.
  • Moreover, the Ministry also recommended immunization against certain diseases with basic immunizations such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, varicella, chicken pox, and mumps.

Travelers are recommended to pay special attention to your food and fluids:

  • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk.
  • Avoid eating raw meat.
  • Thoroughly clean and wash fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Cook food thoroughly and store at safe temperatures.
  • Keep raw and cooked food separated.
  • Note that your food will be seized if you don’t have them properly canned or sealed. 

Additional measures to prevent other acute infections or diseases:

  • Wash hands using disinfectants — before and after eating, after using toilet, on sneezing and coughing, etc
  • Use disposable tissues often
  • Regularly wear masks when in a crowd
  • Keep your distance from those who appear ill
  • Avoid direct sun exposure and keep yourself hydrated.

Here are the to-do list (technical requirements) for the medical missions accompanying the pilgrims 

  • Have at least 1 physician per 1,000 pilgrims accompanying the mission
  • Ministry expects minimum 20% of the accompanying physicians to be public health physicians
  • Maintain and provide a valid medical waste contract with a certified local company covering the entire Hajj season.  
  • Maintain at least one infectious diseases isolation room in each clinics
  • Pledge to report notifiable infectious diseases to the Saudi Arabian Health System.

Rest assured, the Ministry of Health will undertake all additional necessary measures in consultation with the WHO, in response to  International Health Events In the case of a public health emergency of international concern, or in the case of any event subject to notification under the International Health Regulations (2005).

Overseas pilgrims can review the health requirements on the Saudi Ministry of Health portal.

Why should you care about it and why does it matter?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as mentioned earlier seeks to facilitate a smooth conduct of Hajj and Umrah rituals for all pilgrims. In accordance with this, the measures and requirements mentioned above aim to ensure a safe and spiritually fulfilling experience for all attendees.

As travelers from across the world come together and perform the same rituals in one place i.e the Holy site, attendees are exposed to various infections and contagious diseases, perhaps unbeknownst to you. Therefore, as part of enhancing the quality of services provided to pilgrims, the Ministry expects that all pilgrims receive inoculations, and adhere to the guidelines laid out by them so as not to allow anything to hinder the completion of the pilgrimage. 

Also Read : Important Deadline Approaching: Domestic Hajj Pilgrims Must Complete Vaccinations

This will not only save you from any health risks but also your fellow pilgrims, by preventing the spread of infectious diseases, which could possibly spread across countries of the world.

Where can you get them?

  • All mandatory vaccinations are available at the primary healthcare centers.
  • Saudi Arabians can book an appointment via Sehhaty app.
  • Beneficiaries please note that all information regarding the health services can be accessed through the Ministry of Health (MOH) portal

In the run-up to the annual Islamic congregation, let us make sure we check off all the points in the list to protect the health of all pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the concerned authorities and agencies prepare themselves as the Kingdom anticipates participation of more than 2 million Muslims from across the globe for the Hajj rites. The Hajj for the year 2024 is expected to commence around mid-June, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Hajj-Health-Requirements-English-language.pdf (moh.gov.sa)

Health-Regulations-Umrah-EN.pdf (moh.gov.sa)

Hajj Vaccinations 1445 – Vaccinations For Pilgrims Coming from Inside the Kingdom: (moh.gov.sa)

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