Going for Hajj and/or Umrah are major milestones in the life of every Muslim. At Clari Health, we are committed to helping every Muslim perform their pilgrimage in the best and safest way possible.
As every aspiring pilgrim is aware, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has specific health regulations that every pilgrim must meet before he or she is granted a visa for entry into the country: all pilgrims must be vaccinated against Meningitis ACWY and must produce a valid certificate of vaccination as part of the visa application process. Clari Health provides both the vaccination service as well as the required certification.
Vaccination Packages for Hajj and Umrah
To help pilgrims perform the Hajj/Umrah in the safest way possible, Clarihealth is offering three fixed-price Hajj/Umrah vaccination packages:
- Basic package (SGD 83 including GST): This package meets the minimum requirements as per Saudi visa regulation and includes Meningitis ACWY vaccination as well as a valid vaccination certificate.
- Recommended (SGD 113 including GST): On top of the basic package, we also include an additional flu vaccination in the recommended package. Given the long flight, the change in climate, the 5-6 hour time difference between Singapore and Saudi Arabia, presence of pilgrims from all over the world and the emotions that come with performing the Hajj, we recommend for you to boost your immunity with a flu jab.
- Senior package (SGD 178): For pilgrims over 65 years and/or those suffering from chronic illnesses, we recommend to add a Pneumococcal vaccine as well for optimal protection, on top of the required meningitis vaccine and the recommended flu vaccine.
Give us a call at 8754 4101 or send us an e-mail at email@example.com to book an appointment now or for any enquiries.
Remember to come in early to make sure that you have a valid Meningitis ACWY certificate of vaccination dated at least 10 days before your entry into Saudi Arabia. We offer same-day appointments and our travel health nurse will provide you with any further advice that you need for your travels.
As further background reading, we have summarized key facts about immunization for your pilgrimage. We hope that this information will help you to make an informed choice. In any case, Clari Health is here to help you make that choice so please feel free to call us if you have any additional questions:
|Meningococcal Meningitis (ACWY) Vaccine||Influenza Vaccine||Pneumococcal Vaccine|
Recommended?: Yes A certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) must be furnished during the application of a visa to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, as stipulated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The vaccination certificate is valid for 3 years and the vaccination must have been performed at least 10 days before the date of arrival into Saudi Arabia.
Recommended?: Yes The influenza vaccine is not compulsory, but is recommended by both the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organisation for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. Particularly, those at increased risk of severe influenza diseases, including pregnant women, children under 5 years, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, and chronic heart or lung diseases are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated before embarking on Hajj or Umrah.
Recommended?: For those above the age of 65 and those with chronic illnessesThe pneumococcal vaccine is not compulsory, but is recommended by both the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organisation for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. Pilgrims above the age of 65 and those who suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart and pulmonary diseases are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated before embarking on Hajj or Umrah.
|What is meningococcal meningitis and how is it transmitted?
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection which affects the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can lead to severe complications. It can be transmitted from one individual to another through infected air droplets, saliva, or other secretions.
|What is influenza and how is it transmitted?
Influenza, which is often seasonal, is a viral respiratory infection that is transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes and disperses droplets containing the virus into the surrounding air. It is commonly known as the flu and can more severely affect persons with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with conditions such as HIV or AIDS. The flu virus has 4 strains of which A and B are the most common.
|What is pneumococcal infection and how is it transmitted?
Pneumococcal infection is a bacterial infection that causes serious diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia as well as milder but more common ailments such as sinusitis. The infection is transmitted through droplets emitted from the coughs and sneezes of an infected individual. It is a common cause of death in individuals all over the world.
|Why get vaccinated?
The meningococcal meningitis infection spreads easily when an infected person comes into close proximity or has long term contact with others. This makes Hajj and Umrah pilgrims particularly vulnerable to the disease, as they will be in close proximity to others from various countries who may have contracted the disease during their time in their home country. Since pilgrims will be in close contact with others for an extended period, they are more likely to contract the disease from an infected pilgrim.
|Why get vaccinated?
More than 2 million pilgrims from 160 different countries will be gathered together in close proximity to one another during the period of their pilgrimage. Thus, pilgrims are at risk of contracting the flu even if a handful of individuals have been infected. Pilgrims also share the same space for an extended period of time. This magnifies the risk of catching the flu from an infected pilgrim as the flu can be easily spread through droplets in the air from sneezing and coughing.
|Why get vaccinated?
Those with compromised immunity, including the elderly and those with chronic diseases, are more susceptible to getting infected with the bacterium that causes pneumococcal disease. In a space that is densely populated with pilgrims, the chances of the disease spreading from a single infected pilgrim to other immunosuppressed pilgrims is very high. Moreover, since symptoms of infection include high fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the disease can be particularly debilitating to older persons.
|Incidences of meningococcal meningitis in Mecca and Medina
There has been a history of meningococcal meningitis outbreaks in Mecca and Medina affecting those on their Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. The risk of these outbreaks recurring remains, especially if infected pilgrims from countries in the Meningitis Belt (semi-arid area of Sub-Saharan Africa) travel to Mecca and spread the disease to other pilgrims.
|Incidences of influenza in Mecca and Medina
Respiratory tract infection is the most common illness contracted by Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. An estimated 24,000 Hajj and Umrah pilgrims contract the flu every year during the period of their pilgrimage – of these, the majority had not been vaccinated. Since influenza is vaccine-preventable, getting vaccinated before embarking on the Hajj and Umrah will ensure that your pilgrimage is fruitful and free of illness.
|Incidences of pneumococcal infection in Mecca and Medina
Pneumonia, one of the diseases caused by the pneumococcal bacterium, is one of the leading causes of hospitalisation and intensive unit care in hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period of the Hajj. Studies conducted among Hajj pilgrims also showed that the prevalence of pneumococcal carriage was higher in the pool of pilgrims at the end of the Hajj pilgrimage when compared to the beginning. Vaccination is therefore recommended to prevent the infection from being contracted.
Health Regulations for those Arriving from Other Countries
Yellow Fever Vaccine
Clari Health also offers Yellow Fever vaccination to pilgrims who have recently been to countries that have a risk of yellow fever or are looking to depart to Saudi Arabia for their Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages from such a country.
The International Health Regulations established in 2005 stipulate that travellers who arrive from countries at risk of yellow fever must have been vaccinated against the disease at least 10 days before they arrived at the at-risk country. They must provide a valid yellow fever certificate that has been approved by the World Health Organisation as proof of vaccination when arriving in Saudi Arabia.
If the traveller does not have such a certificated, he or she will be put under surveillance for 6 days from the date of vaccination or the last date of potential exposure to infection, whichever is earlier.
The following countries or areas have a risk of yellow fever transmission:
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Trinidad and Tobago
Clari Health offers Polio vaccination to pilgrims who have recently been to polio-endemic countries, countries with re-transmission of polio or whom are looking to depart to Saudi Arabia for their Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages from such a country.
Travellers who are arriving from polio-endemic countries – specifically Afghanistan, Chad, Nigeria and Pakistan – must produce proof of polio vaccination at least 5 weeks prior to departure in order to apply for a visa for entry into Saudi Arabia. Those who arrive from recently endemic countries with a high risk of re-importation of poliovirus as well as those arriving from re-established transmission countries, will also be required to produce this proof of polio vaccination. Travellers from the categories mentioned above will need to receive 1 dose of OPV (poliomyelitis vaccine) at border points once they arrive in Saudi Arabia. This is regardless of the age of the travellers or their vaccination status.
Polio cases related to wild poliovirus importation or to circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus have been registered during the past 12 months in the following countries: Chad, Kenya, Niger, Somalia and Yemen.
The following are some of the countries or areas that are polio-endemic, have a re-established risk of transmission or a high risk of re-importation of poliovirus (please check with your local immigration authority on updated countries or areas):
Central African Republic
|Democratic Republic of the Congo
Papua New Guinea
Ciprofloxacin tablets for chemoprophylaxis of meningococcal meningitis
Pilgrims who are arriving from countries in the African meningitis belt are required to provide evidence of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis (MenACWY), but they will also be administered ciprofloxacin tablets (500mg) upon entry to Saudi Arabia as an additional precaution. This will help to lower the rate of carriers in Saudi Arabia as well as reduce the possibility of any breakouts of meningococcal meningitis within the pool of Hajj or Umrah pilgrims.
The following countries or areas are in the African Meningitis Belt:
Central African Republic
Applying for a visa to Saudi Arabia (for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has certain stipulations for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims who are looking to apply for a visa to Saudi Arabia. Those who are looking to perform Hajj and Umrah must reach out to authorised agencies that offer Hajj and Umrah travel packages and subsequently apply for a visa at VFS Tasheel International Singapore. It is located a stone’s throw away from our clinic, at 72 Anson Road and you can head over there to submit your documents once we have provided you with the stipulated certificate of vaccination.
For more information on application for a Hajj visa, visit the Majilis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) website.
The guidelines that pilgrims must follow while applying for a visa are as follows:
1. The applicant must have a passport with a validity of at least six (6) months and acceptable both for entry to Saudi Arabia and entry to the next destination; the passport should have at least four empty visa pages adjacent to each other.
2. Each applicant must submit one (1) recent passport size color photograph with a white background. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly. Side or angled views are NOT accepted.
3. A completed application form filled-out with black ink or printed; the form must be signed and stamped by the authorized travel agency.
4. The Mahram should write his complete information on the application forms of his spouse and children or any relative with whom he is traveling. He should also provide copies of marriage or birth certificates; if these documents were issued outside the US, he should then provide copies translated and notarized by a certified translation office.
5. All women are required to travel for Umrah with a Mahram. Proof of kinship must be submitted with the application form. Women over the age of forty-five (45) may travel without a Mahram with an organized group, They must, however submits a no objection letter from her husband, son or brother authorizing her to travel for Umrah with the named group. This letter should be notarized.
6. The applicant must be in possession of a non-refundable roundtrip ticket with confirmed reservations.
7. The applicant must submit proof of vaccination for meningitis and ACYW135. For infants and children up to fifteen (15) years of age, a vaccination report is required for polio as well as meningitis and polio. Children over fifteen (15) years of age should present the same vaccinations requested for adults.
8. Umrah visas will only be granted once the competent authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have approved the applicant’s request.
9. The validity of the Umrah visa is one month. The length of stay in the Kingdom will depend on the duration of the Umrah program chosen by the applicant.
10. Minors (under 18 years of age) will not be granted an Umrah visa if not accompanied by their family and travelling with one parent must submit a notarized letter of authorization, in either in Arabic or English, signed by both parents or legal guardians.
12. If the applicant has converted to Islam, he/she should provide an Islamic certificate notarized by an Islamic Center.
For more information about licensed Saudi companies and different offers for performing Umrah and visiting Medina, please visit the Ministry of Hajj’s website.
Other Regulations for Pilgrims
Hajj and Umrah pilgrims are not allowed to bring fresh food into Saudi Arabia. Only food that has been properly canner or sealed or food stored in containers with easy access for inspection is allowed in small quantities, sufficient for one person for the duration of his or her trip.
Health and Safety Advice for Pilgrims
Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
While both public and private hospitals in Saudi Arabia are suitably modern and can provide you with the care that you need if you fall ill, quality of care may vary depending on the healthcare institution that you visit. Moreover, the price of healthcare in the country is steep and you may find yourself racking up thousands of dollars in bills if you seek treatment or are admitted to a hospital.
It is recommended therefore, that you get vaccinated against all vaccine-preventable illnesses that you may be at risk of before embarking on Hajj or Umrah. This will not only save you steep healthcare costs, it will also allow you to have a fulfilling pilgrimage that is uninterrupted by illness.
Outbreak of MERS
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The disease has been reported in human beings as well as camels and is likely to have originated from animals.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent MERS, so Saudi Arabia recommends that those above 65 years, those with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, those with immune deficiency, malignancy and terminal illnesses, pregnant women and children below 12 years postpone the performance of the Hajj and Umrah for their own safety.
Since MERS is believed to be contracted upon contact with Arabian camels or dromedaries, contact with these camels should be avoided and any raw camel products such as camel milk must also not be consumed. Consumption of any type of raw milk or food that may be contaminated with animal secretions should also be avoided. Upon visiting farms, barns or markets where animals are housed or raw meat or animal products are being sold, make sure that you wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them with alcohol gel.
The Saudi Ministry of Health also advises all pilgrims to comply with common public health guidelines to curb the spread of respiratory infectious disease. The guidelines are as follows:
- Wash hands with soap and water or sanitize with alcohol gel or disinfectant, especially after coughing and sneezing
- Use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them in a waste basket
- Try to avoid hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid direct contact with infected persons (people with symptoms such as cough, sneezing, expectoration, vomiting, and diarrhoea) and do not share any personal items with them
- Wear masks, especially in crowded places
- Maintain good personal hygiene
Dengue fever, a disease which is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, is endemic to the city of Mecca. The several million pilgrims who head to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah are therefore susceptible to contracting the infection if they get bitten by even a single infected mosquito.
Pilgrims are encouraged to take measures to prevent or avoid mosquito bites, especially when after dusk or before dawn, when they are journeying on foot outdoors or sleeping in tents. Below are some of the measures one can take to avoid getting bitten:
- Apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET on all exposed parts of your skin, especially if you are venturing outdoors after dusk and before dawn
- If possible, sleep in rooms which are air-conditioned or where windows and doors are protected with gauze that prevents the entry of mosquitos
- Cover your bed or sleeping area with a mosquito net, especially if you are sleeping outdoors
- Apply permethrin to any mosquito nets that you are using and treat your clothes with permethrin
- Wear loose long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially when you venture outdoors after dusk and before dawn
All pilgrims are recommended to be updated on their routine immunisations before entering Saudi Arabia. These immunisations include Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, Hepatitis B and any others that may be included in their country’s immunisation schedule.
Being updated on these immunisations will keep pilgrims from contracting any vaccine-preventable diseases and drastically reduce the probability of any outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases within the pool of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims in Mecca.
If you are not sure which routine immunisations you have received, visit your GP or travel health professional to ensure that you are protected before you embark on your pilgrimage.
Note that in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, left-hand driving is practiced, unlike in Singapore. This means that pilgrims must be extremely vigilant while driving or crossing roads, as they may not look out for oncoming traffic on their left-hand side. Additionally, traffic is often heavy, especially during peak periods. Vigilance, the practice of road safety and safe driving are therefore key to remaining safe during your time in the country.
The temperatures in Saudi Arabia can skyrocket, especially during the summer period. While the average temperature the city of Mecca, during the time of the Hajj pilgrimage this year, is 42°C, temperatures can rise higher than 45 °C. Heat illnesses, such as heat stroke, are among the leading causes of morbidity during Hajj. Pilgrims should aim to stay hydrated during their time in the country, especially when they are performing the Hajj and Umrah, where they may be required to physically exert themselves. They should also wear loose clothing that is permitted for the pilgrimage and seek refuge from the heat of the sun when they can.
Young children and the elderly should be monitored constantly for any signs of heat illness and if any such symptoms do present themselves, they should be provided with medical attention immediately. Heat illness can prove to be fatal if left untreated.