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

Public Health Topics


Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: Vaccinate Against Flu

Last year Georgia experienced one of the worst flu seasons in recent history. Don’t fall victim to the flu this year, vaccinate before it’s too late. National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is Dec. 2-8, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) encourages all Georgians 6 months of age and older to get a yearly flu vaccine. The flu shot takes two weeks to provide protection, so take this time and schedule an appointment with your health care provider or your local public health department to get your flu vaccine.

“It’s important that Georgians understand the best way to protect against influenza is to receive an annual flu vaccine,” said Sheila Lovett, Immunization director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Because Georgia saw one of the highest spikes in influenza cases last year, it’s more important than ever to get yourself and your family vaccinated.”

What is new this flu season?
• Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating flu viruses
• Any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine is recommended
• The nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) is a vaccine option. Ask your health care provider about what vaccine is right for you
Influenza can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. Regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity, anyone can get sick from the flu. Those especially at risk are adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions.

A flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. With flu season beginning as early as August and sometimes lasting until May, it is never too late to vaccinate. The vaccine is available as an injection or a nasal spray. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has approved the use of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, as an option during the 2018-2019 flu season.

National Influenza Vaccination Week emphasizes the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu. This winter, the Georgia Department of Public Health encourages all Georgians to take a few minutes to call your doctor’s office, pharmacy or health department and make an appointment to get vaccinated.

For more information on immunization, visit: http://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-what-you-need-know.

Keep your holidays healthy

It’s the time of year when office parties and family gatherings often mean sharing some yummy holiday goodies. There also tends to be a little bit of a nip in the air making it easier to use weather as an excuse not to go outside to get regular exercise. There are some simple things we can all do to stay healthy this time of year. Something as simple as choosing a parking spot farther away from the store or taking the stairs instead the escalator can help keep you active during the holiday season.

Get more great tips HERE.

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program

Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer. Screening exams and tests – including clinical breast exams and mammograms – help detect breast cancer. The Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening for women who have no insurance (or very limited insurance) and meet certain annual income guidelines. The program provides breast examinations and mammogram referrals to uninsured, low income women between the ages of 40-64 and pap smear testing and pelvic examinations to screen for cervical cancer in women 21-64 years of age.

Mammogram screening events have been scheduled in three Coastal Health District counties in the month of October:

Camden County
9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friday, October 12
Camden Woods Shopping Center, 1601 State Hwy. 40 E., St. Kingsland

Long County 
9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 16
IGA, U.S. Hwy. 84, Ludowici

Chatham County 
9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday, October 22
Chatham County Health Department, 1602 Drayton Street, Savannah

The Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program  is available at all health departments in the Coastal Health District (Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties). For more information on the program or to find out if you are qualified, please contact your local health department.

2018-2019 Flu Season

Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the flu. Every flu season is different and we never know how bad a flu season is going to be or how long it’s going to last. Last year’s flu season was particularly severe. Because flu season is unpredictable, it is important to get the flu vaccine every year. Getting vaccinated is recommended for those six months of age and older. Some things to know about the flu vaccine:

  • Health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties will only offer the flu shot.
  • Regular flu shots are available for $29 and high dose flu shots, made especially for people 65 years and older, are available for $55.
  • It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and provide the body protection.
  • Children 6 months through 8 years old who getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of the vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine might cause some mild side effects such as low grade fever, aches, or redness/swelling where the shot was given but it cannot cause the flu.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease and people 65 years of age and older.
  • No appointment is necessary to get a flu shot in your local health department.

Download the Coastal Health District’s General Vaccine Consent form, fill it out, and take it with you to the health department to save some time when going to get your flu vaccine:
General Vaccine Consent Form 2018
General Vaccine Consent Form (Spanish)


Review vaccine information here:
Flu Inactive Vaccine Information Statement
Flu Inactive Vaccine Information Statement SPANISH

Everyday Actions to Prevent Flu
While getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, there are other things we can all do every day to prevent getting or spreading the flu viruses and other viruses.

  • 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.

Other Helpful Flu Information
For Schools:
How to clean and disinfect schools to slow the spread of flu

For Parents:
Flu Guide for Parents
La influenza una guía para los padres

All about the Flu
All about the Flu (Spanish)

If Your Child Gets the Flu
If Your Child Gets the Flu (Spanish)

Cleaning to Prevent the Flu
Cleaning to Prevent the Flu (Spanish)

More information on the flu can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

National Diabetes Prevention Program Available

There are more than 79 million Americans who have prediabetes and many do not know it. People with prediabetes have blood glucose (sugar) levels higher than normal. The levels are not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. However, people with prediabetes are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than others. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, or loss of toes, feet or legs. Even though prediabetes puts you at high risk, there are ways you can lower your chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

The Coastal Health District will be offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program, beginning in September. This is a year-long program designed to help prediabetics avoid type 2 diabetes by making modest lifestyle changes. The participants will be provided a Lifestyle Coach and a group for support, a group facing the same challenges and trying to make the same changes.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with critical public and private partners. The centerpiece of the National Diabetes Prevention Program is the lifestyle change program for people at high risk for type 2 diabetes that is proven to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

There is an informational meeting, for those who are interested, scheduled from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 6, at the Coastal Health District’s Savannah Office (400 Mall Boulevard, Suite G, 31406). 

For more information, contact the Coastal Health District’s Chronic Disease Prevention program at 912.644.5818 or email cristina.gibson@dph.ga.gov.

Protect Your Family by Getting Vaccinated

The month of August is about bringing awareness to immunizations, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants Georgians to think ahead and get the required school vaccinations. August, which is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), serves as a reminder that people of all ages require timely vaccinations to protect their health.

This year, each week of NIAM focuses on a different stage of the lifespan:

  • Babies and young children (August 12-August 18)
  • Pregnant women (August 5-11)
  • Adults (August 26-31)
  • Preteen/Teen (August 19-25)
  • Back to School (July/August)

Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by Age and Medical Condition. Vaccinations protect you and they protect others around you; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems.  It is always a good idea to have the adult vaccine schedule nearby as a reference and to make sure you are current on your immunizations. This link is to the recommended adult immunization schedule: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-easy-read.pdf

Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. Vaccinations also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community.

Students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering the seventh-grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations. Every child in a Georgia school system (Kindergarten-12th grade), attending a child care facility, or a new student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231. Below are the immunizations required for child care and school attendance:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • PCV13 (up to age 5 years)
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Hib disease (up to age 5 years)
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal Conjugate

Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before their 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.

“The focus of vaccinations often lies on young children, but it’s just as important for teens, college students, and adults to stay current on their vaccinations.” said Shelia Lovett, Director of the Immunization Program of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

This August, protect your family by getting vaccinated. The Georgia Department of Public Health reminds adults to check with their health care provider for their current vaccination recommendations as well as parents to check for their children. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life- threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get immunized today.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.

How to Avoid Uninvited Guests at Your Summer Outing

By Archie Magoulas, Technical Information Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

In the summertime, as the weather begins to heat up, our microscopic friends, called bacteria, begin to make uninvited appearances at our cookouts, picnics and even camping trips. Sometimes these little friends can be helpful, but other times, they just make you sick.

Bacteria will grow anywhere they have access to nutrients and water. Microorganisms that cause disease are called pathogens. When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause foodborne illness.

Under the right temperatures, between 40 and 140°F, bacteria reproduce rapidly. In some cases, they can double their numbers within 20 minutes. The warm temperature, along with the moisture needed for bacteria to flourish, makes the summer weather the perfect atmosphere for bacteria.

That perfect weather, combined with an increase in outdoor activities, and food being prepared in outdoor areas that may lack the safety controls of a home kitchen, could be a recipe for disaster – leading family and friends to get sick.

So play it safe and follow the following food safety recommendations:

  • Never leave food out of refrigeration for more than two hours at room temperature. If the temperature is above 90°F, food should not be left out more than one hour.
  • Keep hot food hot – at or above 140°F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays or slow cookers.
  • Keep cold food cold – at or below 40°F. Refrigerate or place food in containers on ice.
  • If you’ve prepared large amounts of food, divide it into shallow containers. For example, a big pot of baked beans will take a long time to cool, inviting bacteria to multiply, and increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Instead, divide the food into smaller containers and place in the refrigerator or freezer promptly so it will cool quickly.

If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline by calling 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email or chat via in English or Spanish via Ask Karen or Pregúntele a Karen.

FREE HIV Testing Events June 27

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people don’t know they have it. Nearly 45,000 people find out they have HIV every year. In Georgia, the risk of HIV diagnosis is 1 in 51. National HIV Testing Week is an opportunity to raise awareness, encourage people to get the facts, tested, get involved, and get linked to care and treatment services. The Coastal Health District is pleased to offer free HIV testing as part of this global effort.

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will offer free HIV testing on June 27 in observance of National HIV Testing Day. All testing is completely confidential and results will be available in one minute. A follow-up visit will be scheduled for anyone who tests positive and counseling will be made available to those individuals.

Testing will take place from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, at the following locations on National HIV Testing Day:

CHATHAM COUNTY:
Walgreens, 2109 E. Victory Drive, Savannah
Walgreens, 11509 Abercorn St., Savannah
Walgreens, 4210 Augusta Rd., Garden City

GLYNN COUNTY
Walgreens, 4575 Altama Ave., Brunswick

The first 25 people who come for testing at each Walgreens location will receive a gift card.

HIV testing is 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.

For more information on National HIV Testing Day events, please call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Mosquito Prevention

Southeast Georgia counties have seen a lot of rain this summer and that means a higher risk for mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Coastal Health District officials want to remind residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent mosquito breeding.

WNV can cause mild to serious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all; about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash; and about 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord). Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning.

EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain. In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. Horse and large animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals against the virus and to clean out watering sources, such as buckets and troughs, every three-to-four days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there. EEE is rare in humans; however, humans are susceptible to the virus. According to the CDC, most people infected with EEE do not show illness. Symptoms in severe cases of EEE include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The primary mosquito that transmits EEE breeds in freshwater swamps.

One of the best ways to prevent mosquito breeding and the spread of mosquito-borne viruses is to get rid of standing water around the home and in the yard. Residents are urged to clean up around their homes, yards, and communities and get rid of unnecessary items that can hold water and turn into mosquito breeding grounds by using the “Tip ‘n Toss” method. After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets, and anything else that may be holding water. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. It’s also a good idea to change water frequently in outdoor pet dishes, change bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants.

For containers without lids or that are too big for the Tip ‘n Toss method (garden pools, etc.), use larvicides such as Mosquito Dunks© or Mosquito Torpedoes© and follow the label instructions. These larvicides will not hurt birds or animals. In addition, clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes. Homeowners associations and neighborhoods, along with city and county governments, are encouraged to sponsor community cleanup days.

Residents are always encouraged to follow the 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flower pots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

The best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites is to use EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, Picardin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Wearing light colored

Controlling the mosquito population has to be a community-wide effort. If we all do our part to remove places where mosquitoes can breed and take precautions to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes then we can lessen the risk of getting mosquito-borne diseases.

For more information on mosquito-borne illness and mosquito prevention, click HERE.

 

 

Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs

The key to hurricane season is preparation. That’s why public health and emergency management officials in coastal Georgia maintain a Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs. The Hurricane Registry is for residents with certain healthcare needs who have no way to evacuate – no transportation and no friends or family members who can help – if a hurricane is threatening.

Those with functional or access needs include children or adults with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities who need assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, taking medication, dressing, bathing, and communicating. Residents with medical needs include those who require the support of trained medical professionals.

Residents must apply to be on the Hurricane Registry and can do so by calling toll-free, 1-833-CHD-REGISTER (1-833-243-7344). More information on the Hurricane Registry – along with the application – can be found HERE.

The Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs is a last resort but if you or someone you know may qualify, don’t wait to apply.