Time is running out for people traveling to the Hajj, the annual journey of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to receive vaccinations. The Hajj pilgrimage for 2016 begins on Friday, September 9 and ends on Wednesday, September 14. Experts recommend receiving Hajj Vaccinations at least fifteen days before travelling to maximize their effectiveness against infectious diseases.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) suggests receiving inoculations against meningitis, pneumococcus virus, and seasonal influenza, with special consideration for the elderly and those suffering from cardiovascular disease or other chronic illnesses.

Gulf Today quoted Dr Nahed Alyousef, Director of Preventive Medicine Division, DHA, as saying, “We strongly advice anyone planning to go for Hajj to undertake the necessary preventive actions which would help them to perform their rituals without medical problems.”

Each year, physicians report a marked rise in respiratory infections during and after the holy pilgrimage. The large crowds gathered in confined spaces create ideal conditions for transmitting infection. Pilgrims are urged to pay special attention to personal hygiene, implementing frequent washing of the hands, especially after coughing or sneezing, and avoiding contact with people who are infected. An estimated fifty percent of hospitalizations during the Hajj are due to pneumonia.

The Hajj of 2000 resulted in a breakout of meningitis with over 200 confirmed cases reported. Vaccination certificates are now being required for proof of inoculation before entry to the holy places.

After returning home, pilgrims should closely monitor their health and report any respiratory symptoms (coughing, chest pain or fever) to their family doctor immediately.

For more information or to schedule your vaccinations, contact OCP Medical Center.

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