The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Hajj 2019

Level 1

Practise usual precautions

Released: June 13, 2019

Current situation

This year, millions are expected to gather in Mecca to make the Hajj pilgrimage between August 9 and 14, 2019.

Large crowds in small areas can increase your risk of getting sick or injured. Pilgrims performing the Hajj may be at risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), diphtheriacholerameasles, and influenza.

There is currently an extensive outbreak of cholera in Yemen, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia. Yemen is also experiencing an outbreak of diphtheria. See the travel health notice Diphtheria: Global update for more information.

Cases of MERS-CoV are still being reported in Saudi Arabia and other countries, mostly located in the Arabian Peninsula.

About the Hajj

The Hajj is the spiritual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest annual mass gathering in the world, with over two million participants every year. The Hajj takes place from the 8th to the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar.


Before your trip:

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.

  • Discuss medications you may need for your travel.
  • Make sure that your routine vaccinations and adult boosters are up-to-date.
  • Seasonal influenza vaccine is strongly recommended for all pilgrims.
  • Before travelling, an additional measles vaccination may be recommended.

Visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health website for health requirements and recommendations for travellers to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.

  • All travellers over 2 years of age are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate for the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (ACYW-135), administered no less than 10 days prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia.
  • Proof of polio and yellow fever vaccination are required for travellers arriving from certain countries.

Pack a travel health kit and consider purchasing travel insurance.

During your trip

Be aware of your surroundings. Hajj is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world.

  • The risk of accidental injury increases in large crowds.
  • Locate the exit routes and medical facilities.
  • Avoid densely congested areas with limited emergency exits.

Protect yourself and others from the spread of germs and flu-like illnesses.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Keep a bottle with you when you travel.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your arm. If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.
  • Use only new razors for shaving. Choose a barber who uses disposable, single-use blades.

Practise safe food and water precautions.

Protect yourself from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) while you are travelling.

  • Avoid close contact with camels.
  • Avoid food that may be contaminated with animal secretions.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked (rare) meat. Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products such as raw milk.
  • Avoid drinking camel urine (a practice associated with medicinal purposes in certain regions).

Avoid close contact with animals

  • If you must visit a farm or market, make sure you practise good hygiene and wash your hands before and after contact with animals. 
  • Avoid contact with animals that appear to be sick.
  • Depending on your planned activities, a health care professional might recommend getting vaccinated against rabiesbefore you travel. If bitten or scratched, immediately clean the wound. Contact a health care professional or go to a hospital right away if you think you have been exposed to rabies.

Follow sun and heat safety tips. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are common during the Hajj.

Drive with caution.

  • The leading cause of death among international travellers is traffic accidents.
  • Expect traffic congestion and road closures.
  • Avoid driving on unfamiliar and/or rural roads, especially at night.

Visit the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page for the most up-to-date information on laws and culture in Saudi Arabia.

Protect yourself from insect bites at all times.

Monitor your health.

  • If you develop flu-like symptoms during the pilgrimage (fever, cough or shortness of breath) or other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, report your symptoms to the medical staff accompanying your group or to the local health services. 

When you return to Canada

See a health care professional if you develop symptoms such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, vomiting or diarrhea.

Call ahead and tell them:

  • your symptoms
  • where you have been travelling
  • whether you visited a health care facility while in Saudi Arabia
  • whether you had close contact with animals, such as camels

If you are or become unwell on your return flight to Canada, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or at home, and to receive notifications of any new Travel Health Notices posted for your location.Related links

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