Time to Revisit Presumptions on the Essentiality of Influenza Vaccination for Hajj Pilgrims: A Prospective Cohort Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Cellular and Molecular Research Center, Shahre-Kord University of Medical Sciences, Shahre-Kord, Iran

2 Department of Medicine, Shahre-Kord University of Medical Sciences, Shahre-Kord, Iran

3 Dr. Taheri Medical Research Group, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Although health authorities encourage pilgrims to vaccinate themselves against influenza virus; no data exist on how much this vaccination is effective in the Iranian Hajj pilgrims. In the current study, we aimed to evaluate potential effects of influenza vaccination on preventing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections in Iranian Hajj pilgrims.
Methods: Three hundred eighty prospective Hajj pilgrims in 2006 were randomly included into this study. The study was performed after communications with Hajj and Pilgrimage Institution of Iran. Two hundred (52.6%) of the study participants have gotten influenza vaccine, 2 weeks before entering Saudi Arabia, and 185 entered to the study as controls.
Results: Vaccinated pilgrims in the case group were significantly more likely to develop some of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms than the control group: coryza (p=0.01), voice hoarseness (p=0.003), and wheezing (p<0.001). Other signs and symptoms were comparably seen between the two groups and for none of them a statistically significant predominance was detected in the control group.
Conclusion: We recommend stopping routine vaccination against influenza in ordinary Hajj pilgrims, and save it for the people of high-risk health condition, like children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals. We also emphasize on the relevance of education for preventing virus transmission; and to alert pilgrims on the relevance of implementing hygienic precautions and its superiority over vaccination.