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

News


Beach Advisories Lifted in Glynn County

Updated 12.22.20

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisories for Massengale Park Beach and South Beach at the lighthouse on St. Simons Island.

The advisories were issued on December 15, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisories have been lifted.


Updated 12.16.20

The Glynn County Health Department has issued water quality advisories for beach locations on St. Simons Islands.

The advisory locations are:

  • Massengale Park Beach from Driftwood Drive to Cedar Street
  • South Beach at the lighthouse from 9th Street to the pier

NOTE: The advisory for 5th Street Crossover Beach on St. Simons Island, from Cedar Street to 9th Street, was lifted on Wednesday, December 16th.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signsThese advisories are only for the areas specified above and do not impact the other beach areas on these islands. There is no way of knowing if going into water that is under advisory will result in illness. However, these beach water advisories are to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact. An area under advisory does not mean the beach is closed.

Water samples are collected routinely on these islands throughout the year. The samples are tested for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria which is found in warm blooded animals including humans but also birds, raccoons, deer, dolphins and other wildlife. It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste. When a beach is under advisory, it means that the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The areas will be re-tested, and the advisories will be lifted when tests show the bacteria levels meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing Program page.

DPH Launches Vaccine Dashboard; Additional Vaccine Headed to Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is launching a vaccine dashboard that will track the number of providers enrolled to give vaccines, allocations and shipments from vaccine manufacturers, and vaccines administered. The dashboard will reflect the previous day’s totals, and will be updated Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. The dashboard can be found on the DPH website at https://dph.georgia.gov.

The Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization to Moderna for its COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 18, 2020. Georgia’s first allocation of Moderna vaccine is 174,000 doses and shipments are expected to begin arriving today through Wednesday. These shipments will be sent directly to providers.

DPH is also anticipating a second allocation of 60,000 Pfizer vaccine doses this week of which 20,000 will be set aside for long-term care facilities, specifically skilled nursing facilities, to begin vaccination Dec. 28. Most long-term care facilities in Georgia are working with CVS and Walgreens on vaccine administration to residents and staff.

It is important to note that Pfizer only ships Sunday through Thursday to avoid vaccine arriving over the weekend when some facilities are closed and to avoid issues for facilities without ultracold storage that are using dry ice for temperature control. The remaining 10,000 doses of vaccine from the first Pfizer allocation of 84,000 doses will arrive at facilities today.

There are more than 537,000 healthcare workers in Georgia, and as of Friday, the state had received approximately 72,000 doses of vaccine. With the expected Moderna shipment and second allocation of Pfizer vaccine, that number will more than quadruple over the next several days, providing greater access to vaccine for more healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

It is up to each provider to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for prioritizing vaccination among their staff, as well as adhering to the vaccine provider agreement they signed when they enrolled as a provider. This will help ensure that vaccine is administered first to those healthcare workers in direct contact with COVID-19 patients or those who handle COVID-19 materials.

As both Pfizer and Moderna are able to ramp up production of vaccine in the coming days and weeks, supply should better meet demand for each phase of allocation and administration. Until that time, providers and the public are urged to be patient as we work together to get vaccine distributed in the most efficient and equitable way possible.

The criteria for allocating vaccine is based, first and foremost, on supply and shipping, neither of which DPH controls. DPH does use the following criteria for allocation of vaccine to providers:

  • Number of individuals within a defined group (phase) to be immunized
  • Previous allocations of vaccine doses received
  • Number of doses used from previous allocation
  • Ultracold storage capacity and ability to use large number of doses versus smaller may determine Pfizer versus Moderna allocation
  • Geographic considerations and access in rural/underserved areas of Georgia

Healthcare workers have several options for getting vaccinated:

  • Health care workers affiliated with a health care system (hospital, clinic or private practice) or pharmacy should contact their respective facilities about the process for vaccinating eligible employees.
  • Health care workers with access to a community hospital or pharmacy can seek vaccination there.
  • Health care workers without access to these facilities – including those who have started the enrollment process to become a COVID-19 vaccine administration site but have not yet been approved – should contact their district public health office for vaccination.

All Georgians are urged to continue to follow basic COVID-19 prevention measures: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and follow the guidance of Public Health and the guidelines in the Governor’s Executive Order.

Beach Advisory Lifted on Tybee Island

The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for Polk Street Beach on Tybee Island.

The advisory was issued on December 15, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.

First Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive in Georgia; 5,850 Initial Doses in Coastal Health District

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) today received the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine for administration in Georgia. Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Coastal Georgia at two public health locations with ultracold freezers required for storage and temperature control of the vaccine. Additional shipments of vaccine are expected later this week at facilities in other parts of the state, including metro Atlanta.

Today’s shipments contain 5,850 doses of vaccine for individuals to receive their first dose of the two dose series. The Coastal Health District is fine-tuning the logistics of thawing, preparing and administering the vaccine, and will begin vaccinating front line public health staff this afternoon. A broader vaccination program for high priority individuals in Chatham, Glynn, and surrounding counties will begin tomorrow. The district will also make vaccine available to local hospitals as those facilities await their own deliveries.

Because initial COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited, DPH is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and prioritizing healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities for vaccination. Vaccine will be given through closed points of dispensing or PODs. These sites include public health clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, etc., and are only accessible to individuals in defined priority groups.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to give Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization (EAU) later this week. Assuming the vaccine is authorized for use by FDA, shipments of the Moderna vaccine should begin arriving in Georgia next week.

Video of today’s arrival of vaccine and a brief interview with Lawton Davis, M.D., Coastal Health District health director, is available to all media outlets for use at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ru650s2wlbwhtjr/AAA5wHLL0Tanf2QUJoo_m59Na?dl=0.

Additional information about distribution and first administration of vaccine will be coming soon.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

For information about COVID-19, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

No-Cost Flu Vaccination Event Scheduled for Sunday, December 13th

The Chatham County Health Department, in conjunction with YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah, will hold a no-cost flu vaccination clinic from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 13th, at 510 West Gwinnett Street, across the street from Connor’s Temple Baptist Church. The walk-up event will be held during outdoor church services. Masks and social distancing will be required.

This event is being held as part of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Grant. Part of that grant is focused on reducing the risk of African Americans contracting the seasonal flu.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu, especially for those at high risk of severe illness, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.

Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death by about half. It protects the person getting vaccinated and the people around them. Getting the flu vaccine has shown to lower the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

Beach Advisories Lifted on Tybee & St. Simons Islands

Update: December 3, 2020

The beach water advisories on Tybee Island and St. Simons Island have been lifted.

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for South Beach at the lighthouse, which is from 9th Street to the pier on St. Simons Island.

The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for South Beach at Chatham Street, which is from 18th Street to the Inlet Avenue on Tybee Island.

The advisories were issued on December 1, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples taken showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisories have been lifted.


Two beach water advisories have been issued today in the Coastal Health District.

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water advisory for South Beach at the lighthouse, which is from 9th Street to the pier on St. Simons Island.

The Chatham County Health Department has issued a beach water advisory for South Beach at Chatham Street, which is from 18th Street to the Inlet Avenue on Tybee Island.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on coastal Georgia beaches throughout the year. The tests screen for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria, which are found in humans and some wildlife. The testing program is not related to the capsized motor vehicle carrier in St. Simons Sound.

When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards. This does NOT mean the beach is closed.

The beach water advisory alerts the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory area. The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The area will be re-tested this week, and the advisory will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards. For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing page.

Free Flu Shots Offered on December 8th in Liberty County

Getting vaccinated against the flu this year is more important than ever. To make it as convenient as possible for residents to get the flu vaccine, the Liberty County Health Department will offer free flu shots at a drive-through flu vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8th, at the James Brown Park located at 800 Tupelo Trail in Hinesville. No appointment is necessary.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. Vaccination is particularly important for those at high risk of complications from flu, including adults 65 and older, children younger than five, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for the vaccine to provide the body protection against the flu.

­­­­“I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a flu shot this year,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, District Health Director for the Coastal Health District. “Getting the flu vaccine and good public health hygiene practices are the best tools we have to stop influenza.”

The same everyday preventive actions that are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19  are also recommended for preventing the flu: Stay home and away from others when you’re sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wear a mask when out in public.

Flu vaccinations are also available at the health department by appointment during regular operating hours, Monday through Friday. Call 912-876-2173 to schedule an appointment.

To get more information on the flu or to download the vaccine consent form ahead of time, please visit gachd.org/flu.

Beach Advisory Lifted on Jekyll Island

Update: November 25, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the advisory for North Beach at Dexter Lane, which is from Tallu Fish Lane to Brice Lane on Jekyll Island.

The advisory was issued on November 24, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples taken showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.


November 24, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water advisory for North Beach at Dexter Lane, which is from Tallu Fish Lane to Brice Lane on Jekyll Island.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on Glynn County beaches throughout the year. The tests screen for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria, which are found in humans and some wildlife. The testing program is not related to the capsized motor vehicle carrier in St. Simons Sound.

When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards. This does NOT mean the beach is closed.

The beach water advisory alerts the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory area. The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The area will be re-tested this week, and the advisory will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards. For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing page.

Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely; Stay Home to Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing families to make difficult decisions about their 2020 Thanksgiving celebrations. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges all Georgians to plan ahead and take steps to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the flu as they celebrate.

COVID-19 spreads easily whether gatherings are large or small, putting families and friends at risk – especially individuals who are elderly or have underlying medical conditions. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to stay home and celebrate with people in your own household. Travel increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

“The surge of COVID-19 infections in Georgia and across the country mean we must rethink our idea of a traditional Thanksgiving this year,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “Each family must assess the risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially among elderly or medically fragile individuals, as they weigh the decision to host or attend a holiday gathering. Everyone needs to follow the guidance of wearing a face mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently. And get a flu shot.” 

If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people you don’t live with, take steps to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends individuals who have not lived in the household during the two weeks ahead of the holiday (members of the military or college students home for the holiday) stay in a separate area of the house with a designated bathroom, if possible. Other recommendations include:

Wear a mask

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

Wash your hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Attending a Gathering

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils.
  • Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Thanksgiving Travel

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.

For more information about safely celebrating Thanksgiving log on to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

Free, Confidential HIV Testing and Giveaway Events Scheduled

Free, confidential HIV testing events have been scheduled in observance of World AIDS Day. There will be giveaways at all events, while supplies last.

Upcoming Events

Free HIV Testing & Turkey Giveaway
Thursday, November 19
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Chatham County Health Department
1395 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah

Get tested and get a free frozen turkey, face mask, and hand sanitizer while supplies last. (One turkey per household. Must be 16 years of age or older to get tested).

Free HIV Testing & Gift Card Giveaway
Chatham County Health Department
1602 Drayton Street, Savannah
Monday, November 30
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free testing and giveaways including gift cards, swag bags, and self-protection kits while supplies last.

Free HIV Testing & Gift Card Giveaway
Glynn County Health Department
Tuesday, December 1
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
2747 Fourth Street, Brunswick
Free testing and giveaways including gift cards, swag bags, and self-protection kits while supplies last.

Launched in 1988, World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. The Coastal Health District, along with organizations all over the world, holds events on and around that day to promote awareness of HIV, decrease stigma surrounding HIV, and advocate for an end to the HIV epidemic. As a reminder, HIV testing is always free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours of operation.

Masks required and social distancing observed at all events.