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The Pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj) in Saudi Arabia is held each year in March and April. Pilgrims may arrive in Saudi Arabia between late January and early March and then commence leaving the country in early April. Up to 1,500 Australian residents travel to Mecca each year during the Hajj season.
Yellow fever has not been reported in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Health Ministry has advised WHO that only those travellers arriving from declared yellow fever infected countries will be required to have valid yellow fever vaccination certificates. Vaccination requirements for the Hajj are published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record in early January each year.
However, for the past two years, the Saudi Embassy in Australia has adopted the policy of requiring all Australian travellers to the Hajj to be vaccinated against yellow fever as a condition of the issuing of the special Hajj visas. The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to seek a clarification of the yellow fever vaccination policy from the Saudi Ministry of Health. When this issue is clarified, an update will be provided to State and Territory health authorities and will be published in CDI.
This article was published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 24, No 3, 16 March 2000.