Hajj, Umrah & Pilgrimage

The Hajj pilgrimage:

Hajj, Umrah & pilgrimage - General Travel advice and immunisation guide.

Of the five pillars of Islam; Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives over a 5 to 6 days period. This is known as Hajj, a spiritual and cleansing journey across Saudi Arabia that attracts upwards of 2 million Muslims a year. It is the fifth pillar in Islam.

The Umrah pilgrimage:

The Umrah pilgrimage is similar to Hajj in that Mecca is at the centre of the journey and all activity. However, Umrah can be completed within a few hours and at any time outside the Islamic calendar. 

General advice for UK pilgrims travelling to Hajj and Umrah

When travelling anywhere in the world, especially a new country or continent; it is vital that you consider the health risks that may occur while there. When it comes to Hajj and Umrah, this should be an important factor in your preparation. There are added health risks when taking on the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage due to the large gathering of crowds from people all around the world and the warm climate. If you prepare for your journey with the correct vaccinations, it will help reduce the risk of becoming sick or infected during such an important event.

Those travelling for either pilgrimage should check in with their local healthcare professional to discuss their overall health and fitness as the nearly week-long journey can be strenuous and difficult for those who suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, those who have recently had major surgery or those who are older taking the trip for the first time. If you routinely take medication, you should take enough medication with you to last the length of the journey. 

Vaccinations available for UK pilgrims travelling to Hajj and Umrah

With a large number of people visiting Suadi Arabia every year, immunisation against common diseases and infections is vital.

One of our travel experts will likely recommend a vaccination course against meningitis. Meningitis spreads through respiratory contact with others, e.g. sneezing, coughing, mouth-to-mouth exposure with someone who already has the infection.

During the Hajj pilgrimage, head shaving is a mandatory rite for all men. New blades aren’t always used to shave each person’s hair. If this is the case, contracting a blood-borne infection, for example, hepatitis B and some others may occur. Vaccination against these diseases are available and can be completed up to 3 weeks before departure. Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio are also a possibility, so the 3-1 vaccination is also recommended if your last booster was more than 10 years ago. 

The vaccine recommended for travel to these areas is meningitis ACWY, a combined vaccine offering protection against meningitis groups A, C, W and Y – the leading cause of septicemia (bloodstream infection). If your trip is for support or relief purposes, then the spread of infection is far more common. It is best practice to take your consultation at least 6-8 week before you travel. This is to give ample time for full vaccination courses to occur.

Travellers arriving for Umrah, Hajj or work during the Hajj season are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate to confirm their immunisation against (ACWY) meningococcal meningitis at least 10 days before arrival to Saudi Arabia. If this requirement isn’t met, then it could mean your travel to the country is rejected completely.

You can speak to a member of our team or visit one of our trusted travel clinics in the UK. Our professional team of travel experts will be able to establish the best course of action for you.

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