Vaccination against meningococcal disease is required by Saudi Arabia for pilgrims visiting Mecca annually (Hajj) or at any time (Umrah). Following the occurrence of cases of meningococcal disease associated with N. meningitides W-135 among pilgrims in 2000, the current requirement is for vaccination with tetravalent vaccine (A, C, Y and W-135). Vaccine requirements for Hajj pilgrims are issued each year and published in the Weekly epidemiological record.


Meningitis is an infection of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Viral meningitis is less severe and usually resolves without treatment. Bacterial meningitis is generally more serious and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disability or death. Meningitis is relatively rare (1.5 cases per 100,000 in the U.S) but there is evidence that first-year students living in residence halls are at higher risk.


Some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious. The bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing). Individuals in the same household or anyone in direct contact with a person who has meningitis are at increased risk for acquiring infection.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Severe Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Discomfort looking into bright lights
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures


The meningitis vaccine is about 85% effective against certain strains of bacteria. It does not protect against viral meningitis.The CDC now recommends that children ages 11 to 12 years old, unvaccinated teens entering high school, and unvaccinated college freshmen living in dormitories should be routinely vaccinated.