Sunday, 27 January 2013

Meningococcal vaccination for Umrah/Hajj

There are 2 meningococcal vaccines used to immunise pilgrims (jemaah Umrah/Haji) against meningitis, an inflammation of the coverings (meninges) of the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. 

The older vaccine produced in the 1970s is the Mencevax, and immunity lasts for 3 years. However, pilgrims who are vaccinated with Mencevax are still possible carriers of N. meningitidis (the causative agent) and can therefore infect non vaccinated persons (families and friends) when they return to their countries. It is therefore advisable for these pilgrims to take a course of antibiotics so that they will not transmit the bacteria to their loved ones.

The more recent vaccine produced in 2004 is the Menactra, and immunity lasts for 8 years or more. Since it has only been recently produced there is insufficient data about the duration of immunity that it provides. Pilgrims who get vaccinated with Menactra do not carry N. meningitidis (the bacteria) and therefore do not infect their families and friends.

Malaysia and Singapore use the same meningococcal vaccines for their pilgrims.

A dose of Mencevax costs RM120 (S$48) in Malaysia. 

A dose of Menactra costs S$130 in Singapore.

These links below provide more information on the meningococcal vaccines.


CDC - Vaccine information statement - Meningococcal vaccines (download)

FDA on Menactra



C.Health - Drug Factsheet - Menactra Vaccine (Sanofi Pasteur) - research aspects of vaccine production

Wikipedia - Meningococcal vaccine (Mencevax, Menactra)

Wikipedia - Neisseria meningitidis 


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