People travelling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages are being urged to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations in order to travel safely.

Hajj and Umrah fall between 14 and 19 June, 2024, and all travellers should be up to date with routine vaccinations as recommended in the UK such as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. 

In addition, Hajj and Umrah pilgrims are also required to show proof of vaccination with the meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccine as part of their visa for entry into Saudi Arabia. 

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by inhaling respiratory droplets or direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person, usually following prolonged or frequent close contact. The most common forms of meningococcal disease are meningococcal meningitis, or infection of the protective lining around the brain, and septicaemia, or blood poisoning.

The Men ACWY should be given at least 10 days before, and within the last 5 years of, planned travel. 

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing, said: "Large gatherings like Hajj and Umrah are associated with unique health risks and travellers should make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations as well as ensuring they practice good general health measures, such as regular hand washing with soap and water, to reduce the spread of infections.

"In particular, it's crucial that pilgrims have had their Men ACWY vaccine within the correct timescales, as they will be at increased risk of this particular infection due to the crowded conditions and possible close contact with people from countries with higher rates of meningococcal disease that they will experience on the pilgrimage.

"Please follow the guidance to ensure your safety and wellbeing throughout your travels."

Further information on vaccinations, health and travel are available at Travel Health Pro