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Saudi Arabia (Middle East)

Advice for All Destinations Immunisations Malaria Malaria Map Other Health Risks Hajj Related Vaccines News

Advice for All Destinations

The risks to health whilst travelling will vary between individuals and many issues need to be taken into account, e.g. activities abroad, length of stay and general health of the traveller. It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents, sun exposure and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.

All travellers going overseas with medication (including over the counter medications) should check if there are any restrictions on medications they intend to take prior to travel. Check with individual country Embassies via this linkLink

Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. UK travellers visiting other European Union countries should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries. Online applicationsLink normally arrive within seven days. Applications may also be made by telephone on 0300 330 1350 or by post using the form which can be downloaded from the websiteLink

For Travel Safety Advice you should visit the UK Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeLink website.

A worldwide list of clinics, run by members of the International Society of Travel MedicineLink is available on the ISTM website.

Immunisations

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain - including for example, seasonal flu vaccine (if indicated), MMR, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: none.
  • Other vaccines to consider: Diphtheria; Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Influenza; Meningococcal Meningitis; Poliomyelitis; Rabies; Tetanus.
  • Selectively advised vaccines - only for those individuals at highest risk: none.
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever certificate.

Notes on the diseases mentioned above

  • Diphtheria spread person to person through respiratory droplets. Risk is higher if mixing with locals in poor, overcrowded living conditions.
  • Hepatitis A spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route.

    Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation is poor.

    Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs.

  • Hepatitis B spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse.

    Risk is higher for long stays, frequent travel and for children (exposed through cuts and scratches), those who may require medical treatment during travel.

    Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who change partners frequently; people who inject drugs.

  • Influenza spread via airborne droplets among crowds and in enclosed spaces. Travellers in the UK influenza risk groups should ensure that they have received their seasonal influenza vaccine before travel. The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends seasonal influenza vaccine for Hajj attendees.
  • Meningococcal Meningitis spread by droplet infection through close person to person contact. Meningococcal disease is found worldwide but epidemics may occur within this country, particularly during the dry season. Risk is higher for those mixing with locals for extended periods.
  • Poliomyelitis spread person to person through the faecal-oral route and by consuming contaminated food and water. A total of 5 doses of polio vaccine are recommended for life in the UK. Boosters are usually recommended for countries where polio remains a problem.
  • Rabies spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, but also bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.
  • Tetanus spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A total of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine are recommended for life in the UK. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes.You cannot be vaccinated against malaria.

Malaria precautions

Malaria Map
  • Malaria risk is present throughout the year in the provinces of Jazan, Aseer, Najaran and all other areas. Hajj pilgrims, may travel between Mecca and Medina. The risk of malaria is low in both cities and antimalarial prophylaxis is not advised. However, pilgrims who are outdoors or walking at night should take strict mosquito bite precautions.
  • Malaria precautions are essential. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net.
  • See malaria map – additional information can be found by clicking on the Regional Information icon below the map.
  • Low to no risk areas: antimalarials are not usually advised.
  • If you have been travelling in a malarious area and develop a fever seek medical attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.

Other Health Risks

Schistosomiasis

A parasitic infection (also known as bilharzia) that is transmitted to humans through contact with fresh water. The parasite enters humans through the skin and prevention is dependant on avoidance of swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams. For further information see Schistosomiasis

Meningococcal Meningitis

Visitors arriving for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones, are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate with a Quadrivalent (ACWY) meningococcal vaccine administered no less than 10 days prior to arrival to Saudi Arabia.

Vaccination with ONE of the following vaccines is acceptable:

  • Quadrivalent (ACWY) polysaccharide vaccine within the last 3 years.
  • Quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine within the last 5 years.

Note: If the vaccine type is not indicated in the certificate, the certificate will be valid for 3 years.

Vaccination with Quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine is also required for:

  • Domestic pilgrims.
  • Residents of the two holy cities (Mecca and Medina).
  • Any person who may be in contact with pilgrims including personnel in healthcare settings.

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health may opt to administer prophylactic antibiotics to some travellers at the points of entry if deemed necessary.

Poliomyelitis vaccination

The Saudia Arabia Ministry of HealthLink has announced that all travellers arriving from countries with circulating wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) and from countries at risk of polio reintroduction are required to submit a valid polio vaccination certificate.

For travellers arriving from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Republic of South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen should present proof of vaccination with one of the following vaccines: 

  • At least one dose of bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) within the previous 12 months and administered at least 4 weeks prior to arrival. 
  • At least one dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within the previous 12 months and administered at least 4 weeks prior to arrival. 

Note:

  • All travellers arriving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo require a proof of receipt of at least 1 dose of IPV within the previous 12 months and administered at least 4 weeks prior to arrival. 
  • Travellers arriving from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Republic of South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen will also receive one dose of OPV at the border points on arrival into Saudi Arabia.

Influenza vaccination

  • The Ministry of Health of Saudia ArabiaLink recommends influenza vaccine before arrival, especially for those at increased risk e.g. pregnant women, children over 5 years, the elderly, those with chronic chest or heart disease.

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