The Union Health Ministry is struggling with the
paucity of meningitis vaccines for Haj pilgrims. This is because the only firm
manufacturing them was asked to stop production in 2018 after type-2 polio
virus contamination was detected in its oral polio vaccines.
Meningitis is an inflammation/swelling of the
protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral
infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the
swelling. It is spread through respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or
spit). Vaccines can prevent some forms of meningitis
People travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or
Umra are required to submit a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent
(ACYW 135) vaccine against meningitis. They have to prove that the vaccine was
administered no more than 3 years ago and no less than 10 days before arrival
in the country.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca,
Saudi Arabia. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried
out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and
financially capable of undertaking the pilgrimage. Hajj has specific dates
according to the Islamic lunar calendar.