Getting a travel health certificate for Hajj and Umrah

Pilgrims heading to Mecca for Umrah may need vaccinations. If you are going to Saudi Arabia for religious purposes you should protect your health by getting shots for some vaccine-preventable diseases that are endemic in the Middle East. You may also need a travel health certificate for Hajj and Umrah

Are you fit for pilgrimage?

Umrah involves fewer rituals than Hajj, but it can still be arduous enough to cause fatigue. On top of this changes to routine and the desert climate can put a strain on your body which can make you more susceptible to certain illnesses. Six weeks before you are due to leave make an appointment with a travel health nurse to learn how you can stay healthy during the Umrah.

The travel health nurse can also tell you about the required travel health certificates for Hajj or Umrah.

If you have an underlying health problem, such as diabetes, see your GP or consultant for specific advice.

What vaccinations should I get for Umrah?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has some guidance for pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.

Travel health certificates for Hajj and Umrah commonly required by the government of Saudi Arabia include:

  • yellow fever certificate for pilgrims arriving from regions at risk of yellow fever transmission. This does not include the UK – but if you are making a multi-stop trip, let your travel health adviser know so they can work out whether you need this.
  • meningococcal meningitis certificate of vaccination for everyone. This travel health certificate for Hajj and Umrah, which is available from NX Travel Health Clinics’ city centre branches, proves that you have had the shot no less than ten days before arrival. There are two different types of meningitis vaccine – one that protects for three years and one that protects for five years. If you are not sure whether you are protected from meningitis or if you want to know whether your meningitis certificate is still valid, come and see us.
  • polio certificate of vaccination for pilgrims arriving from certain countries. The polio vaccine must be given in the oral form. Again, let your adviser know if you are going to another country before you go to Saudi Arabia.

Note that the guidance for travel health certificates for Hajj and Umrah may change at short notice, so it’s best to check, even if you have visited Saudi Arabia before.

Tips for coping with the heat while on pilgrimage

Take the time you need to acclimatise to the heat. If you can, take a couple of rest days after you arrive before doing anything strenuous.

Dehydration is a real risk during your time in Saudi Arabia, particularly if you are sweating more than you normally would, or if you get a gastro-intestinal infection. Take more fluids than you normally would and keep an eye on your outputs: urine that is a light straw colour is a good target. Watch for the following signs of dehydration:

  • dizziness and headache
  • tiredness
  • dry eyes, lips and mouth
  • passing urine less than three times a day, and urine may be dark in colour, too

To ease these symptoms take more fluids, and if you don’t improve, get medical advice. Untreated dehydration can kill.