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Influenza vaccination among Australian Hajj pilgrims: uptake, attitudes, and barriers

Barasheed, Osamah; Rashid, Harunor; Heron, Leon; Ridda, Iman; Haworth, Elizabeth; Nguyen-Van-Tam, Jonathan S.; Dwyer, Dominic E.; Booy, Robert


Osamah Barasheed

Harunor Rashid

Leon Heron

Iman Ridda

Elizabeth Haworth

Jonathan S. Nguyen-Van-Tam

Dominic E. Dwyer

Robert Booy


Background: Hajj is the largest annual mass gathering where the risk of respiratory infection is high. Although the Saudi Arabian authority recommends influenza vaccination for Hajj pilgrims, the uptake is variable. Influenza vaccine uptake data among Australian Hajj pilgrims is not readily available. Therefore, we aimed to estimate the influenza vaccination uptake rate and identify both attitudes and barriers to vaccine uptake from two consecutives surveys at Hajj in 2011 and 2012.

Methods: Using an anonymous self‐administered questionnaire, surveys were conducted in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, among Hajj pilgrims from Australia in 2011 and 2012. Pilgrims staying in “Australian” tents were recruited serially.

Results: In 2011, 431 Australian pilgrims completed the survey—median age was 42 (range 7–86) years, 55% were male; 65% reported receiving influenza vaccine. In 2012, 535 pilgrims of median age 43 (range 12–83) years completed the survey, 62% were male; 89% reported receiving the vaccine. Both in 2011 and 2012, common reasons for not receiving the vaccine were the pilgrims' reliance on their “natural immunity” (33 and 26%, respectively, p = 0.4) and believing that they would rarely catch influenza or come in contact with influenza patients (18 and 29%, respectively, p = 0.1). In 2012, when asked why they had received the vaccine, 65% pilgrims responded that it was because of the tour group leaders' recommendation.

Conclusion: Influenza vaccine uptake among Australian Hajj pilgrims seems satisfactory and increasing but could be better because many pilgrims have misconceptions about vaccines. Tour operators may play a greater role in promoting vaccination.


Barasheed, O., Rashid, H., Heron, L., Ridda, I., Haworth, E., Nguyen-Van-Tam, J. S., …Booy, R. (2014). Influenza vaccination among Australian Hajj pilgrims: uptake, attitudes, and barriers. Journal of Travel Medicine, 21(6),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2014
Publication Date Aug 21, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 31, 2017
Journal Journal of Travel Medicine
Print ISSN 1195-1982
Electronic ISSN 1195-1982
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 6
Keywords Influenza, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vaccination, Vaccines
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Travel Medicine following peer review. The version of record Osamah Barasheed, MPH, Harunor Rashid, MD, Leon Heron, FAFPHM, Iman Ridda, PhD, Elizabeth Haworth, FFPHM, Jonathan Nguyen-Van-Tam, DM, Dominic E. Dwyer, FRCPA, Robert Booy, FRACP, on behalf of the Hajj Research Team; Influenza Vaccination Among Australian Hajj Pilgrims: Uptake, Attitudes, and Barriers. J Travel Med 2014; 21 (6): available online at: