Via Arab News: Meningitis shots a must for Haj workers.
The Ministry of Health has launched a program to vaccinate all public and private sector workers on Haj duty this year.
Launching the program at the ministry’s headquarters here on Thursday, Tarif Al-Ama, undersecretary for treatment services at the ministry, outlined the importance of the vaccination program for workers and pilgrims.
“This will definitely prevent meningitis and help create an infection-free environment in the Haj areas,” he said. He urged all workers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Initial symptoms of the disease include fever, vomiting and headaches. Sufferers may also have pain in their limbs, pale skin, cold hands and feet, neck stiffness, confusion and sensitivity to bright light.
Vaccination against meningitis is mandatory for local and foreign pilgrims. It should be given 10 days before departure and is valid for a period of three years.
The disease may spread during the Haj season causing outbreaks because many pilgrims come from endemic areas. Congestion and overcrowding facilitates transmission. The vaccine is given to adults and children over two years of age and is not administered to pregnant women.
Through overseas Saudi missions, the ministry has already instructed incoming pilgrims to produce vaccination certificates against yellow fever, meningitis, polio and influenza depending on their countries of origin.
Most pilgrims from Africa and South America have been advised to take vaccinations against yellow fever, which is endemic to countries on those continents.
The Health Ministry has taken preventive measures against all epidemic diseases likely to be brought into the Kingdom by pilgrims. It has deployed officials at all 15 ports of entry to monitor the health of pilgrims coming for Haj.
Al-Ama said these officials would ensure pilgrims have taken the necessary vaccinations. “Those who have not taken the vaccinations, will be given the relevant doses at the ports of entry so that they are protected against contagious diseases,” he said.