Pilgrims attending Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah are required to provide a certificate showing proof of vaccination against Meningitis Strains A, C, W and Y to obtain a Visa.
About Meningitis ACWY
Meningitis is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria Meningitides, of which there are several strains. The combined vaccine provides protection against 4 strains; A, C, W, and Y, which are encountered worldwide.
The infection is spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing and sharing cutlery and utensils.
There are two types of vaccines-conjugated and polysaccharide. Conjugated vaccines have a better immune response and are now the main vaccines used for prevention of Meningitis ACWY.
The conjugated vaccines can be given from 1 year of age (Nimenrix) or 2 years of age (Menveo).
Additionally, Menveo can be used “off license” for those from 2 months to 1 year of age as per Department of Health Guidance, as there is sufficient clinical data on safety and effectiveness.
Since 2015, the conjugated vaccines are given to UK school children aged 14-16 years as part of the national childhood immunisation schedule.
A single dose of the vaccine provides protection for at least 5 years in clinical studies.
Current Guidance for Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia
Meningitis ACWY certificate requirements apply to Adults and children over 2 years of age travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah.
For the certificate to be valid, the Meningitis ACWY vaccination must be administered as below:
- Conjugated vaccine (Menveo and Nimenrix)-single dose given within the last 5 years and not less than 10 days prior to arrival.
- Polysaccharide vaccine-single dose to be given within last 3 years and not less than 10 days prior to arrival.
Visas will only be issued if there is a valid certificate of vaccination at least 10 days prior to entry into Saudi Arabia
Please note that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health are advising that the following groups should defer pilgrimage due to potential safety concerns:
- The elderly (above 65 years of age).
- Those with chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, diabetes).
- Immune deficiency (congenital and acquired).
- Those with malignant disease.
- Those who are terminally ill.
- Pregnant women.
- Children (under 12 years).