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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


Vaccinating on Time is Important for Disease Protection

Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years of life may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

Dr. Robinson cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s NCIRD. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.  Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.

 

 

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.

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 cdc.gov/tb.

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.

Ready.ga.gov 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. Ready.ga.gov 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 Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

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

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