Vaccination and Travel Information for Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA

 Information current as at:  February 2009 by The D2 Medical centre No1 Fitzwilliam Street Upper Dublin 2 ph 6314500. The experts in travel vaccines Dublin 2.


Climate: Saudi Arabia has a desert climate. In Jeddah it is warm for most of the year. Riyadh, which is inland, is hotter in summer ( average 35° Celsius ) and colder in winter ( average 15° Celsius ) , when occasional heavy rainstorms occur. The Rub al Khali seldom receives rain, making Saudi Arabia one of the driest countries in the world.
Capital City: Riyadh
Altitude: 610 metres above sea level
Main Cities: Jeddah, Mecca, Medina
Population: 22,023,506
Land Area (sq km): 1,960,582
Currency: 1 Saudi riyal (SR) = 100 halalah
Languages: Arabic
Religions: Muslim
Economy: Petroleum and petroleum products



 The D2 Medical advises all travellers to be 'up-to-date' for:

CHOLERA Immunisation is neither required nor recommended.
DIPHTHERIA We recommend the initial childhood series of vaccinations in the first five years of life, with booster doses at ages 11 years, 45 years, and 65 years. Travellers are recommended to have the vaccine 10 yearly esp. if travelling to developing countries, or where there may be a risk of contracting the disease.

HEPATITIS 'A' Immunisation is strongly recommended but not compulsory.


HEPATITIS ‘B’ Immunisation is recommended for travellers who will be in the area for 1 month or more.
Transmission of Hepatitis B is through sex or contact with contaminated blood, needles and syringes.

MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS Immunisation is required for all visitors to Mecca for Haj and Umra. A certificate of immunisation is required issued not more than 3 years and not less than 10 days before date of arrival. Non pilgrim visitors may also be asked to produce a certificate of vaccination against MM when travelling to Saudi Arabia during the yearly pilgrimage.


POLIO Adults who are travelling to areas where poliomyelitis cases are occurring, or where the contracting the disease is possible, and who have received a primary series with either IPV or OPV should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

RABIES Immunisation is recommended for travellers who will be staying in rural areas for 1 month or more.


TUBERCULOSIS (TB) Immunisation is not compulsory, and is not routinely recommended for adults.
Children should be immunised at any age.
A skin test is available if immune status is in doubt, and this is recommended pre- and post- travel for those going to ‘at risk’ regions.

TETANUS We recommend the initial childhood series of vaccinations in the first five years of life, with booster doses at ages 11 years, 45 years, and 65 years. Travellers are recommended to have the vaccine 10 yearly esp. if travelling to developing countries, or where there may be a risk of contracting the disease.

TYPHOID FEVER Immunisation is recommended for travellers who will be living in rural areas for 1 month or more.

YELLOW FEVER A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers coming from countries, any parts of which are affected. Because of the Hajj, Saudi Authorities in Australasia have been stating that the vaccine be given to travellers, so we recommend a Yellow Fever vaccination for all those over 1 year of age at all times of the year. During non-religious occasions of the year the vaccine is not required. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers coming from countries, any parts of which are infected.




Malaria risk, predominantly due to P. falciparum, exists throughout the year in most of the Southern Region (except in the high-altitude areas of Asir Province) and in certain rural areas of the Western Region. No risk in Mecca or Medina. Chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum reported.

There are five common medications for malaria prevention available Ireland. They are: chloroquine, doxycycline, malarone, mefloquine, paludrine. To determine the appropriate antimalarial, it is advised that the traveller discuss this with a Worldwise Travellers Health Specialist or other Travel Health Professional. None of the medicines are 100% effective against the disease at all times, and each has its own side effects. These need to be discussed with the intending traveller.

 

General Advice on Mosquito Prevention.
Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite, so recommend all travellers to the country to:

  • cover exposed skin after dusk when they are at most risk for getting bitten
  • use insect repellent with DEET in it.
  • return before dusk from country areas where malarial mosquitoes are the most active
  • sleep in screened room or use a bed net, remembering to tuck in the edges & spray inside.
  • sleep in air conditioned rooms or rooms with fans. Vapour pads and smoke coils also help. Insect buzzers are useless.

Malaria map of Saudi Arabia



GENERAL
Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in several hospitals and health centres in Saudi Arabia. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalisation and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Visitors are strongly recommended to carry travel insurance.

HEALTH, ACCIDENTS AND INSURANCE
Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travellers under the age of 55. Most are caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; and to a lesser degree, drowning, aircraft crashes, murders, and burns.

Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travellers, but infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travellers. Generally, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.

Travellers are advised to obtain, before departure, travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should include a medical evacuation benefit. Check for any exclusions that are part of the policy, and keep in mind that many insurance policies have terrorism exclusion clauses. The D2 medical recommends that the policy also provide 24-hour access to an assistance centre that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care, and determine if air ambulance services are required.

                                                                                                                       DR JOHN J RYAN MEDICAL DIRECTOR

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