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How do pilgrims protect their health?

Followers of many major religions travel to holy places to fulfill obligations or for spiritual reasons. Like most travellers, pilgrims should take a few steps – including appropriate vaccinations – to protect their health while on their journey.

Islamic pilgrimage

Worshippers from around the world assemble in the holy city of Mecca, Saudia Arabia, each year for Hajj. Another important site in Saudi Arabia is the city of Madinah (or Medina). The third most holy site in Islam is Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel.

If you are travelling for Hajj pilgrimage you will need a certificate of vaccination against meningococcal meningitis. Canadian Travel Clinics can provide this: let your healthcare adviser know about your plans.

We offer a popular Umrah Travel Vaccinations Package, and a Hajj Travel Vaccinations Package at competitive prices. Book a consultation with one of our nurses today to determine your individual requirements for your pilgrimage this year.

Christian pilgrimage

Many Christians journey to Israel to experience the landscapes described in the New Testament. Roman Catholics might journey to Rome, and to the shrines such as that at Lourdes in France.

Indigenous Canadians

The spiritual traditions followed by Aboriginal Canadians involve gatherings for rituals such as the Sun Dance and the Green Corn Ceremony. National Aboriginal Day is also marked with gatherings around Canada.

Buddhist pilgrimage

Buddhists may wish to travel to places with links to the life of Buddha. Sites important to Buddhists in India include Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinara; sites in Nepal include Lumbini.

Judaic pilgrimage

Followers of Judaism may travel to Israel. The Western Wall of Jerusalem, known as the Wailing Wall, is a significant site and there are numerous other sites of pilgrimage throughout Israel, too.

Hindu pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is a significant part of the Hindu religion, and members of the faith gravitate to sites throughout India. Vast festivals, such as the Kumbh Mela, are also important.

Protect your health

The first step to good health on a pilgrimage overseas is to make an appointment with a travel health adviser. A specialist nurse can give you all the advice you need as well as administering travel vaccines. If you think you need travel jabs in Okotoks, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray or Medicine Hat, come and see us at Canadian Travel Clinics.

Your immune system can take a hammering during travel. The effects of jet lag, lack of sleep and an unfamiliar environment can make you vulnerable to infections.

Outbreaks of contagious diseases occur during festivals and gatherings, so it is easy to pick up a cold, flu or respiratory infection. Observe good cough and cold etiquette by covering sneezes with your elbow. Wash your hands frequently, too.

At a large gathering such as Hajj or the Kumbh Mela, it can be difficult to access healthcare if you need it. Make a plan for getting health advice, and bring a set of basic medicines such as paracetamol and treatments for the symptoms of a cold. You should also bring a full supply of any medicine you take for a long-term condition.

If your pilgrimage involves any strenuous activity, this can make you fatigued, which also has an impact on your health. If you do no exercise at home, you should consider building up gradually before you go. The use of remedies for muscular pain and blisters will make you more likely to complete the pilgrimage requirements.

Pilgrims should observe all the usual travellers’ precautions around food and water.