Umrah pilgrims urged to protect against meningitis

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Vaccine reminder ahead of pilgrimage

MUSLIMS in the UK are being urged by the Meningitis Trust to ensure they are immunised against meningitis as part of their preparations for their Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Meningitis Trust is reminding pilgrims from all over the UK that the vaccine will protect them from strains of meningitis that are not common in the UK but may be carried by pilgrims from other areas of the world.

Alison Osborne, UK BME Co-ordinator at the Meningitis Trust, said: “Meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning) can affect anyone at any time and can kill within hours. Survivors can be left with disabling after-effects, including brain damage, deafness and, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs.

“People need to be fully aware of the dangers of meningitis both in the UK and abroad and receive appropriate protection where available. When people are in prolonged close contact in large gatherings, such as Umrah, opportunities for transfer of bacteria between people are increased. “

The Meningitis Trust is reminding all pilgrims from the UK to have the ACWY vaccine at least three weeks before they travel, as it is a legal requirement for entry into Saudi Arabia.

The quadrivalent vaccine protects against four different groups of meningitis – A, C W135 and Y. Everyone travelling should book an appointment with the practice nurse at their G.P surgery and to allow time for the vaccine to be ordered and for it to become effective.

Alison added: “Pilgrims should be aware that there is still no vaccine to protect against all types of meningitis. Awareness of the common signs and symptoms will protect both the pilgrims and their families”

Anyone with concerns or wanting more information about meningitis and available vaccines can call the Meningitis Trust’s free, 24-hour, nurse-led helpline on 0800 028 18 28, where there is access to language line or visit the website at www.meningitis-trust.org.

In addition to raising awareness of meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia, the Meningitis Trust offers practical support for life to people coping with devastating after-effects. Support services include a free, 24-hour nurse-led helpline, professional counselling, home visiting and financial support grants.

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