The start of World Immunisation Week today is a great reminder for everyone to ensure their kids’ vaccinations and their own are up to date.

The theme of this year’s World Immunisation Week is #VaccinesWork. It’s worth remembering that immunisation prevents between two million and three million deaths each year around the world. We all have a part to play in keeping our community healthy.

One effective measure is NSW Health’s very popular smartphone app, which sends personalised reminders to parents when their children’s next vaccinations are due. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times on iPhone, Android and Windows platforms. We are so lucky to be living at a time when we are able to contain vaccine-preventable diseases in NSW. They have contained diseases that were once common and often fatal, like diphtheria, polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella, and also have substantially reduced deaths from whooping cough.

I draw attention to the need for high-risk groups, including pregnant women, people over 65, and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma, to take advantage of free influenza vaccinations. The most up-to-date influenza vaccine, which protects against four circulating strains of the illness, is available from GPs under the National Immunisation Program.

Immediately after World Immunisation Week, NSW will start a school-based vaccination program for meningococcal disease, targeting Year 11 and 12 students in secondary schools. The vaccine will provide protection against meningococcal serogroups A, C and Y, as well as W.