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The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

Camden News

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for City of St. Marys

The Boil Water Notice that was issued by the City of St. Marys has been lifted.  Free chlorine residual measurements and coliform bacteria samples were collected from enough sites to adequately represent all areas of the distribution system, following the Environmental Protection Division’s recommendations.  Free chlorine residuals were detected throughout the distribution system and all microbiological tests were performed by a certified laboratory and were negative for total coliform bacteria. A copy of the laboratory results are being sent to the Environmental Protection Division, and based upon the laboratory results, the City of St. Marys has decided to rescind the boil water notice effective immediately.  Thank you for your understanding as the City worked through the process of ensuring that the microbiological quality of the water in the distribution system is safe for human consumption.

If you should have any questions please call St. Marys Public Works at 882-4415.

World Breastfeeding Week Events Scheduled in August

The Coastal Health District Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) nutrition program will hold two World Breastfeeding Week celebrations in early August. The first event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, August 4 at Jekyll Island Square on Newcastle Street in Brunswick and the second event will take place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 5, at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah. The celebrations will include public walks, prize giveaways, and information on the benefits of breastfeeding. All events are free and family friendly.

Those who register for the events by going to will receive a free T-shirt while supplies last.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated during the first week in August every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.  This year’s theme is “Sustaining breastfeeding together” and is focused on working together for the common good. The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for breastfeeding mothers within their home and community. The Coastal Health District is committed to helping mothers breastfeed their babies because breastfeeding is so important for good health. Breast milk is easy to digest, with just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein for a baby’s growth and development. Breastfed babies usually get sick less often, because breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections.

For more information on the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2017, click HERE.

For more information on the scheduled Coastal Health District events, contact Monica Lightfoot at

Back to School Clinics Scheduled

It won’t be long before the new school year begins and health departments in the Coastal Health District want to help parents beat the back to school rush by holding clinics that are focused on providing the screenings and immunizations that students need before starting school.* Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis and no appointment is necessary.

Students entering a Georgia school for the first time – no matter what the grade level –  must have a completed Certificate of Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition screening form. “First time” means never enrolled in a Georgia school before at any time in their lives.

In addition, children born on or after January 1, 2002 who are attending seventh grade and new entrants into Georgia schools in grades 8 through 12 must have received one dose of Tdap vaccine and one dose of meningococcal vaccine. (“New entrant” means any child entering any school in Georgia for the first time or entering after having been absent from a Georgia school for more than 12 months or one school year).

The following health departments have scheduled back to school clinics:

Chatham County Health Department, 1395 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah
*Wednesday, July 12
8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

*Thursday, July 25
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

*(Free eye, ear, dental, and nutrition screenings)

Camden County Health Department, 1501 Georgia Ave., Woodbine and 905 Dilworth St., St. Marys

*Thursday, July 20
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

*(Free eye, ear, dental, and nutrition screenings)

Liberty County Health Department, 1113 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. Hinesville
Thursday, July 20
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 29
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Tuesday, August 1
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Long County Health Department, 584 N. Macon Street, Ludowici
Tuesday, July 25
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

McIntosh County Health Department, 1335 Hwy. 57, Townsend
Tuesday, August 1
1 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.


*The health departments listed above have chosen to focus immunization and screening efforts on specific days to make it convenient for parents; however, those health departments – along with the other Coastal Health District health departments –  offer immunizations and Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition screening on a daily basis.

For more information, please contact Your County Health Department.

Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner named head of Atlanta-based CDC


July 7, 2017 – from the office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal:

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the appointment of Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, current director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), as interim commissioner of DPH, effective immediately. The vacancy was created by the appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, current commissioner of DPH, as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by President Donald Trump.

“I am immensely proud of my friend and colleague Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, and I am grateful to her for her tireless work to promote the health and well-being of Georgia’s citizens,” said Deal. “She has been an asset to the State of Georgia and I know she will bring the same determination and persistence to her new role of CDC director, working for the good of the entire country. I want to thank President Trump for naming one of our own to this prominent role and I am confident Dr. O’Neal will be able to successfully pick up where Brenda left off at DPH.”

“I am humbled by the challenges that lie ahead, yet I am confident that the successes we’ve had in Georgia will provide me with a foundation for guiding the work of the CDC,” said Fitzgerald. “The progress we’ve made in Georgia around early brain development, childhood obesity and creating a model for addressing the Ebola epidemic would not have been possible without the full support of Governor Deal and a dedicated public health staff.”


Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.

Fitzgerald formerly served as the commissioner of DPH and as State Health Officer. She is a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and practiced medicine for more than three decades before coming to Public Health in 2011. As Commissioner, Fitzgerald oversaw various state public health programs including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Health Protection, Georgia WIC, Office of Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care and Vital Records. She also directed the state’s 18 public health districts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. As a Major in the United States Air Force, Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.



J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D.

O’Neal serves as the Director of Health Protection for DPH, overseeing more than a dozen public health programs including Epidemiology, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Emergency Preparedness and the Georgia Public Health Lab. He is also the medical director for the Office of EMS and Trauma. O’Neal previously practiced emergency medicine for 29 years at DeKalb Medical Center and also served as the regional medical director for EMS throughout the Metro Atlanta area. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. Following medical school, O’Neal entered the United States Air Force for training in flight medicine and later served as a flight surgeon in Vietnam.



Residents with Functional, Access, or Medical Needs Urged to Register with Health Department

As the 2017 hurricane season quickly approaches, public health officials strongly encourage residents in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties who may have functional, access, or medical needs and no way to evacuate if a storm is coming to register with their county health department. The Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry is made up of residents who may require transport and medical assistance during a hurricane evacuation and have no other resources such as family, friends, neighbors, or church members to help them if they need to evacuate. Residents must apply to be on the registry and are encouraged to register now.

Those on the Registry will be evacuated to an American Red Cross shelter in an inland county that will likely be in a gymnasium or similar setting and could be several hours away. The Registry is truly a last resort, but if a hurricane is threatening our area, it is important that health department officials know where the most vulnerable residents are located so that evacuation assistance can be provided to them. People living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes are not eligible for the Functional, Access, and Medical Needs and must follow their facility’s emergency plan.

Functional and Access Needs registrants are individuals who may need services to maintain their independence in a shelter. This includes children and adults with physical, sensory, mental health, and cognitive and/or intellectual disabilities affecting their ability to function independently without assistance. Medical Needs registrants are individuals who require support of trained medical professionals. This includes those individuals who may need assistance with managing unstable, terminal, or contagious conditions that require observation and ongoing treatment.

The application and protected health information authorization form can be downloaded at Residents can also call the following numbers for more information:

Bryan County
912-756-2611 or 912-653-4331

Effingham County

Camden County
912-882-8515 or 912-576-3040

Chatham County

Glynn County

Liberty County

Long County

McIntosh County



Health Department Officials Urge Students to “Vaccinate B4U Graduate”

As students begin looking ahead to graduation and starting a new and exciting chapter in life, it’s a good time to remind both students and their parents about the important role that immunizations play in that chapter. Health department officials in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties want to encourage soon-to-be high school graduates to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease which causes meningitis.

Meningococcal disease is not common; however, when it is contracted it can be dangerous. The bacteria that causes meningococcal disease is spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living in the same household or dorm. There are different kinds of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be very serious and can even cause permanent disabilities and death. Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis and is usually less serious but can still cause illness.

“We encourage parents of students getting ready to graduate – especially those going off to college – to make sure their children have received the meningococcal vaccine and that all vaccinations are up-to-date,” said Coastal Health District Immunization Coordinator, Paige Lightsey, R.N. “This is an exciting time for our students and we want to do everything we can to make sure that they are protected from meningitis as they start on their new adventure.”

When children are 11 or 12 years old they should receive one dose of the vaccine followed by a booster at age 16. Parents can check with the health department or their healthcare provider to get immunization records for their children or schedule a time to get the meningococcal vaccine.

For more information on meningitis or the meningococcal vaccine, please to

School Health Summit Planned for May 31; School Officials Encouraged to Attend

 The Coastal Health District Chronic Disease Prevention Program will host a School Health Summit from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at the Liberty County Schools Performing Arts Center located at 2140 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. in Hinesville.

The free one-day training is being offered to school administrators, teachers, nutrition directors, and principals to develop and execute nutrition and physical activity policies and to offer resources to help prevent the incidence of chronic disease in children.

“Obesity continues to be a real problem in children of all ages and unhealthy habits developed early translate into unhealthy habits later in life,” said Coastal Health District Chronic Disease Prevention Director, Cristina Gibson. “The Summit is a way for school leaders to learn about tools that can help promote better health in students and how to go about using those tools.”

Those interested in attending the training can register by calling Gibson at 912-644-5818 or by emailing

The 2017 School Health Summit is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Public Health, healthMpowers, Georgia SHAPE, and the Coastal Health District.

Boil Water Advisory for Part of St. Marys

Health Officials Encourage Wildfire Smoke Precautions

Smoke from wildfires burning in South Georgia is making its way into some coastal counties and as a result, Coastal Health District officials are encouraging residents to take precautions. For healthy people, smoke from wildfires that contains particles from burning trees and shrubs can irritate your eyes and respiratory system. However, smoke can worsen chronic health problems such as lung disease, asthma, and allergies. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from this smoke.

It’s important to limit your exposure to the smoke and take precautions to protect your health and the health of your family.

  • Stay inside and away from the smoke.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Keep airways moist by drinking plenty of water.
  • Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease.

Seek medical attention if you are having difficulty breathing or if your symptoms worsen.

CDC: Georgia’s Early Childhood Vaccination Rates Among Nation’s Highest

ATLANTA – Georgia is leading the country with above average early childhood vaccinations with 75.6 percent of children 19-35 months old protected, compared to national averages of 72.2 percent for the 7-vaccine series. However, health officials here say statewide immunization statistics show that more can be done to stop vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in Georgia.

As recent disease outbreaks demonstrate, immunizing infants and young children remains a critical component of protecting vulnerable infants against potentially deadly diseases.

So far in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 1,200 cases of mumps across the U.S. Other recent outbreaks include a pertussis outbreak in 2012 that infected more than 48,000 people, and a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland and impacted 188 people in 2015. Each of these diseases is preventable by vaccines.

During National Infant Immunization Week, April 22-29, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents to check with their pediatrician to ensure their child is up-to-date on vaccinations.

“Immunizations are the best way to protect infants and children from childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles that can be life-threatening at young ages,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It is critical for parents to talk to their child’s doctor to ensure they are up-to-date on immunizations, because no child should have to suffer a vaccine-preventable illness.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to become aware of vaccination rates in their community. The AAP offers an interactive map ( that highlights vaccination rates in each state for recommended childhood vaccines, including vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, pertussis, polio and influenza. It also offers state-by-state information about community immunity thresholds, which is the level at which disease outbreaks are prevented.

“High immunization rates in the community provide a buffer of protection that makes it harder for diseases to break through,” said Georgia Chapter AAP President Ben Spitalnick, M.D., Savannah. “Vaccines protect children from diseases, and they also keep communities healthy by protecting infants who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who have compromised immune systems.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage everyone – in observance of National Infant Immunization Week – to protect the little ones who cannot yet protect themselves. Please contact your pediatrician or your local public health department to ensure your infant is up-to-date on vaccinations. For more information contact the Georgia Department of Public Health or