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

Public Health Topics

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.

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.

Emergency Help for Opioid Overdoses

Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in the state of Georgia and across our nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Most overdoses occur in the presence of others. Fear of arrest and prosecution prevent many people from calling 9-1-1. Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law protects victims and callers seeking medical assistance at drug or alcohol overdose scenes.

To find out more about the signs of opioid overdose, the most commonly abused opioids, and Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law, check out the Georgia Department of Public Health’s  Emergency Help for Opioid Overdoses.




Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child

You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?

Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children are no longer common in the U.S. – primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio is one example of the great impact that vaccines have had in the United States. Polio was once America’s most feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but thanks to vaccination the United States has been polio-free since 1979. Due to continual worldwide vaccination efforts, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world that have never interrupted the spread of wild poliovirus, and only small pockets of polio still exist in these countries. 

Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccine side effects are almost always mild such as redness or swelling at the site of the shot, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccinated are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.

Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. For example, in 2014, there were 667 cases of measles in 27 states, the greatest number of cases since measles was eliminated in 2000. The following year saw measles cases as well. During 2015, 147 people were part of a large, multi-state measles outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. Almost one in 10 people who became sick with measles in this outbreak were babies too young to be vaccinated. While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or daycare facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. To find out more, visit the CDC VFC site, or ask your child’s health care professional.

Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists anywhere in the world. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), we have dramatically reduced the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn, and birth defects associated with that virus are seen in only rare cases in the United States when a pregnant woman who was never vaccinated against rubella is exposed to someone who contracted rubella in another country. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

For more information about the importance of infant immunization, visit CDC’s vaccine website for parents.

Syphilis Strikes Back

Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur in the United States every year costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone, says a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). America’s youth shoulder a substantial burden of these infections. CDC estimates that half of all new STDs in the country occur among young men and women aged 15 to 24.

The high incidence of STIs in the general population suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to STDs, underscoring the need for prevention. Despite this news, there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STDs. STD screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and the long term health consequences of STDs.

Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause disease and cancer. And for all individuals who are sexually active – particularly young people – STI screening and prompt treatment (if infected) are critical to protect a person’s health and prevent transmission to others.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can have very serious complications when left untreated, but it is simple to cure with the right treatment. It’s divided into three stages with primary and secondary (P&S) being the most infectious stages of the disease. Without appropriate treatment, long-term infection can result in severe medical problems affecting the heart, brain, and other organs of the body. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV.

At one point, syphilis was almost gone. Now, it’s back with a vengeance. According to the CDC, the number and rate of cases is higher than it’s been in more than 20 years. If syphilis isn’t treated, it can cause severe health problems affecting the brain, eyes, heart, and other organs.  Syphilis can be cured with the right treatment. Find out more about preventing and treating syphilis HERE.
Syphilis Strikes Back #STDMONTH17

The Lowdown on Preventing STDs


Unite to End TB

Often when people hear the word “tuberculosis,” they think of a disease that caused harm decades ago. But tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is still a very real problem in the United States and in Georgia where 335 new cases of TB were reported in 2014. In fact, Georgia ranked fifth highest in the country for newly reported TB cases in 2014. March 24 is World TB and this year’s theme is “Unite to End TB.”

TB is a disease that usually affects the lungs but can attack any part of the body. TB is caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air when a person with active TB coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. Although a relatively small number of people exposed to the disease actually contract the infection, active TB disease can be life threatening if left untreated.

TB is preventable and curable. Yet, too many people in the United States still suffer from this disease. TB elimination would have widespread health, economic, and social benefits for our country. Anyone can get TB. People with TB disease can be found in every state; in rural areas and cities; in schools, workplaces, homes; and in many other places where people are in close contact.

People with active TB disease may spread the TB germs to other persons who are usually individuals with whom they have been with in an enclosed space for a prolonged period of time, such as family members and co-workers. Symptoms of TB include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and sweating at night.

Up to 13 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have latent tuberculosis (TB) infection. Latent TB infection is a condition in which a person is infected with the TB bacteria, but does not currently have active TB disease and cannot spread TB to others. However, if these bacteria become active and multiply, latent TB infection can turn into TB disease. Without treatment, on average 5-10% of people with latent TB infection will develop TB disease. For some people, that risk is much higher.

Anyone who thinks he has been exposed to TB should contact a healthcare provider or local health department to get tested. For more information on TB, go to

Georgia Preteen Vaccination Awareness

Let’s face it – nobody likes getting shots – but a shot lasts a second; diseases last much longer.

In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health established Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, observed March 13-17, 2017, to serve as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine- preventable diseases.

“Preteens are at an age where they are becoming more independent and social. They spend more time out with friends playing sports, going to sleepaway camps and attending parties. While this is a fun part of growing up, these activities could increase their risk for contracting potentially life- threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “Parents, make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against these preventable diseases.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into eighth -12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding homeschool).

Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.

The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)

Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools, health care providers and the media regarding preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia’s pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students. Speak with your physician today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date. For more information, click here.

Get the Facts!

Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week Fact Sheet

Listen to Your Heart

About 610,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year and heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in our country. A lot of things can lead to heart disease including family history, lifestyle, and age. Could you be at risk for heart disease?

Risk factors of heart disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking risk factors for heart disease.
Other conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Want to know more about heart disease? Click HERE.

The good news is that heart disease is often preventable. Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and not smoking are just a few things that can help keep heart disease away. What are some simple ways to improve heart health?

  • Do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Don’t like to run? Put on your dancing shoes. Dancing is a legitimate form of exercise. Pick a few of your favorite songs, turn up the volume, and dance your way toward your 30-minute daily goal!
  • When it comes to heart healthy eating, there is a lot to consider but you can never go wrong with eating fresh fruits and vegetables, especially when it comes to snacking. Just about everybody needs a little snack to get through the day and snacking doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, low-fat yogurt, raisins – there are a million great healthy snacking choices out there. You just have to find the one that suits you.
  • Don’t smoke. There is nothing good about tobacco. It’s also not easy to quit but there is help. Using Georgia Tobacco Quit Line can help you improve your chance of quitting for good. The Quit Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
    Spanish: 1-855 DEJELO-YA
    Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534

A high Body Mass Index or BMI (a ratio of weight to height) may put you at risk for heart disease. Check your BMI using this BMI Calculator.

28 Days to a Healthy Heart.

Always be Weather Ready

Weather can change on a dime. One day the climate may be mild and calm and 24 hours later tornado warning sirens could be going off. Hurricane season is expected every year in that we know the dates – June 1 through November 30 –  but we never truly know how the season will play out. Hurricane Matthew showed us that knowing a hurricane is out there doesn’t necessarily mean we know where it’s going to make the biggest impact once it makes landfall. It is important for all of us to be as prepared as we can be when it comes to changing weather.

Do you know what you should have on hand in case of severe weather? A basic disaster supply kit should include:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Change of clothes
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Chargers for cell phones
  • Personal hygiene items

You can always add more to your kit which should be accessible all year round. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your kit to see if it needs to be updated or changed in any way.

Click HERE to find out more about preparing for severe weather. is a great site with a lot of helpful information on how to prepare for weather and other potentially dangerous occurrences.  Ready Georgia now has a free app that can be downloaded on smart phones. Ready Georgia Mobile Preparedness App not only notifies you when severe weather is coming but also helps keep your emergency contacts notified that you are safe after an emergency. The app offers a lot of other great features and is free on both the App Store and on Google Play.

Don’t Wait: Communicate
Having emergency plans in place for severe weather or any other crisis just makes good sense. has everything you need to make sure that when a disaster strikes, families know what to do which includes having an up-to-date contact list for those you may need to reach during a disaster and establishing alternate methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.

Family Communication Plan for Parents: FEMA_plan_parent_508_071513
Family Communication Plan for Children: FEMA_plan_child_508_071513


World AIDS Day 2016

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and commemorate people who have died. More than 1.2 million people in United States are living with HIV and nearly one in eight of them does not know it. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. World AIDS Day is a global initiative to raise awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education about HIV and AIDS. The 2016 theme is “Leadership, Commitment, Impact.”

The Coastal Health District Prevention Program will offer free and confidential rapid HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, at the  Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah.

Whether you are actively dating or in a committed relationship, you can take these simple, effective steps to help prevent HIV infection for you and your partner:
• Use condoms every time you have sex.
• Get an HIV test, which is free and confidential.
• Be monogamous.
• Do not abuse alcohol or drugs.
• Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you are at risk for HIV.

For more information, please call Diane DeVore at (912) 353-3276 or email

For more information on the Coastal Health Districts HIV/AIDS program, click HERE.


Keep Germs Away This Winter

Germs are everywhere and we can’t avoid them all but some can make you sicker than others. Protecting ourselves from certain viruses starts with good hygiene.

“Stomach Bugs”
Viruses such norovirus – or what many refer to as “stomach bugs” – can be spread in different ways, including eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated or touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth. The best way to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal viruses is to practice good hygiene on a consistent basis. That includes:

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing but they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water).
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces. You should handle soiled items carefully without agitating them. Wear rubber gloves while handling soiled items. Wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length.
  • And as always, if you are sick – whether with a stomach bug, the flu, or something else – stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone – and try to limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, and cook seafood thoroughly. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 140°F, and quick steaming processes are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

    Say NO to Noro!

Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning,” makes about 48 million Americans sick ever year. Safe food handling practices are key when it comes to preventing foodborne illness. Do you clean, separate, cook, and chill? Doing those four things will go a long way toward keeping potentially harmful bacteria away from the food you eat. And what about those leftovers? Here’s the lowdown from the Partnership for Food Safety and Education:

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 90 °F. This also includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Some exceptions to this rule are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 165°F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that cause illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.

Cooking at proper temperatures is also very important.


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The Flu

Don’t let the flu take the fun out of your holidays. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated.  All Coastal Health District health departments have flu shots available for $29 and high-dose flu vaccine, recommended for those 65 and older, available for $50.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older receive a yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu and getting vaccinated is the first and best line of defense against the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and provide the body protection.

On average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections and it is estimated that more than 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza-related illness.

The flu virus is easily spread through coughs and sneezes and by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s why good health habits are also important including:

• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Try to cough or sneeze into the corner of your elbow and not your hand or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Want to know some other ways to prevent the flu? Click HERE.