The recent announcement that the government of Saudi Arabia is planning to introduce an Online Visa for Saudi Arabia is good news for those curious to experience a holiday in the country. Once implemented, the Saudi eVisa will open the country up to tourism for a number of eligible nationalities, which is expected to include citizens of the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China.
However, before traveling to Saudi Arabia with an eVisa, there are several medical requirements for Saudi Arabia that applicants should bear in mind. As Saudi Arabia is a desert country where several disease-carrying insects are present, it is necessary to get the required vaccines for Saudi Arabia before traveling, as well as to take other precautions to safeguard your medical health.
Recommended Vaccinations to Travel to Saudi Arabia
The US American Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all travelers to Saudi Arabia should be up-to-date with the following routine vaccinations before their trip:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Influenza (flu)
It is also recommended that most travelers get the Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines to travel to Saudi Arabia in order to to avoid getting these diseases through contaminated food or water. The Typhoid vaccine is especially recommended for Saudi Arabia if the traveler is staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or is an adventurous eater.
Recommended Vaccines for Some Travelers to Saudi Arabia
There are also a range of other vaccinations that may be recommended for travelers to Saudi Arabia, depending on where they are going, how long they will be staying, what they will be doing, and which country they will be traveling from:
- Meningitis – An obligatory medical requirement for those applying for a Hajj or Umrah Visa for Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimage.
- Hepatitis B – Recommended if the traveler is likely to get a tattoo or piercing, have sex with a new partner, or have any medical procedures in Saudi Arabia, as the disease can be spread through contaminated blood.
- Rabies – Recommended for long-term travelers and those likely to come into contact with animals.
- Yellow Fever – Although there is no risk of yellow fever in Saudi Arabia, travelers arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever are required to show proof of vaccination to gain entry to Saudi Arabia.
Health and Safety Tips to Travel to Saudi Arabia
Apart from the immunization requirements for travel to Saudi Arabia, there are several other steps travelers can take to safeguard their health while in the country, including:
- Take out full Travel Health and Medical Evacuation Insurance.
- Exercise good Hygiene practices – Travelers should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and avoid contact with sick animals to avoid diseases present in the region such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
- Avoid swimming in fresh, unchlorinated water such as lakes, ponds, or rivers – This will help to reduce infection of Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection found in fresh water in Saudi Arabia.
- Avoid mosquito bites to prevent Malaria and Dengue Fever infection – Both of these insect-borne diseases are present in some areas of Saudi Arabia, and there are currently no vaccines available for prevention. Applicants should ask their doctor for advice, and may be advised to take anti-malarial medicine before, during, and after their stay.
It is still possible to develop symptoms of Malaria up to a year after the travel has concluded. Travelers who are not feeling well after returning home from Saudi Arabia should contact their doctor and provide details of their trip. If the traveler was bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling in Saudi Arabia then they should also inform their doctor as soon as possible.
Travelers who will be eligible to apply for the eVisa for Saudi Arabia once it is implemented should keep these medical requirements in mind, in order to enjoy a safe and hassle-free stay in the country.