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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


Keep Immunizations Up to Date

As a parent, you want to protect your little one from harm. Vaccinating your child according to the recommended immunization schedule gives him or her the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses — like measles and whooping cough — before the age of 2.

As warmer weather brings more opportunities for in-person, physically distanced activities, the Coastal Health District encourages you to make sure your child is up to date on vaccines by ensuring that they haven’t missed any check-ups. Well-child visits are essential even during the pandemic.

You can also review the 2021 easy-to-read immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  If you’re pregnant, now is a great time to find a doctor for your baby and schedule a visit to discuss any questions you have about vaccines.

Have questions? Call your healthcare provider or contact your local health department.

For more information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, visit these resources:

Protect Yourself & Your Family from Diseases

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious diseases (like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, and pneumonia) through on-time vaccination.

During NIAM, the Coastal Health District encourages you talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional to ensure that you, your child, and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines.

We also encourage you to visit CDC’s Interactive Vaccine Guide, which provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy and throughout your child’s life.

As your children head back to school, whether in-person or virtually, make sure vaccination is at the top of your checklist. August is also a key time to make sure you are up to date on all the vaccines you need to stay healthy. Use CDC’s adult vaccine assessment tool to see which vaccines might be right for you.

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.

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.

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.

Men’s Health Month

This year, Men’s Health Network (MHN) has decided to focus on the theme of a new decade. With a new decade comes the opportunity to both look back and look forward. This time for both reflection and prospection gives us all a unique occasion to evaluate how we have been dealing with our health, both physical and mental. Men, especially, should take this time to do just that.

In general, men are less likely to take care of themselves and their health than women. Men are half as likely to visit the doctor for a check-up as women are, and there are over 7 million American men who have not seen a doctor in over 10 years. In addition, a Cleveland Clinic survey in 2019 found that 82% of men report trying to stay healthy and live longer for those who rely on them, yet only 50% engage in preventive care. Men cited embarrassment, lack of convenience, not wanting to hear a bad diagnosis, and being told as children not to complain about medical problems as reasons for pushing off a visit to their health care provider. Partly as a result of dedicating less time to their personal health, male life expectancy is about 5 years less than women. Now, in 2020 and the new decade, it is time for that to change.

Men of every age need to be taking the time to focus on their mental and physical well-being. From 19 to 90, even if he is in “perfect” shape, a man should still be making routine appointments with his providers. There are several times in his life a man should be getting routine appointments with his healthcare provider to ensure that he is maintaining good health. Men are not invincible and should be engaging with their providers on a regular basis. Regular check-ups and appointments mean taking responsibility for your health and well-being and being a real man.

To coincide with the new decade and renewed responsibility for health, especially in the time of Coronavirus, here’s a breakdown of each decade of a man’s life, and when he should be getting certain check-ups with his healthcare provider:
20s:

  • Every year – a physical exam, blood pressure analysis, blood test & urine analysis, rectal exam, STD testing, self-performed testicular exam
  • Every 5 years – TB skin test
  • Every 10 years – Tetanus booster

30s:

  • Every year – a physical exam, blood pressure analysis, blood test & urine analysis, rectal exam, STD testing, self-performed testicular exam, electrocardiogram (EKG) for heart abnormalities
  • Every 5 years – TB skin test
  • Every 10 years – Tetanus booster

40s:

  • Every year – a physical exam, blood pressure analysis, blood test & urine analysis, rectal exam, STD testing, self-performed testicular exam, electrocardiogram (EKG) for heart abnormalities, prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening, hemoccult test
  • Every 5 years – TB skin test
  • Every 10 years – Tetanus booster
  • With physician’s discretion – chest x-ray, testosterone screening

50s:

  • Every year – a physical exam, blood pressure analysis, blood test & urine analysis, rectal exam, STD testing, self-performed testicular exam, electrocardiogram (EKG) for heart abnormalities, prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening, hemoccult test
  • Every 5 years – TB skin test
  • Every 10 years – Tetanus booster
  • With physician’s discretion – chest x-ray, testosterone screening, bone density screening


Do You Know Your Tools2Thrive?

While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The good news is there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency – and there are ways that everyone can be supportive of friends, family, and co-workers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health.

This May is Mental Health Month and a good time to talk about #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling, and work towards a path of recovery.

One of the easiest tools anyone can use is taking a mental health screen at mhascreening.org when they need answers. It’s a quick, free, and private way for people to assess their mental health and recognize signs of mental health problems.

This May, we are also exploring topics that can help you build your own set of #Tools2Thrive – recognizing and owning your feelings; finding the positive after loss; connecting with others; eliminating toxic influences; creating healthy routines; and supporting others – all as ways to boost the mental health and general wellness of you and your loved ones.

When it comes to your feelings, it can be easy to get caught up in you emotions as you’re feeling them. Most people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with but taking the time to really identify what you’re feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations. It’s ok to give yourself permission to feel. We also know that life can throw us curveballs – and at some point in our lives we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process. By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally.

It also is true that connections and the people around us can help our overall mental health – or hurt it. It’s important to make connections with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but it’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time. And we know that work, paying bills, cleaning, getting enough sleep, and taking care of children are just some of the things we do each day – and it is easy to be overwhelmed. By creating routines, we can organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them.

For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. Finding what work for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical health and mental health – and set yourself on the path to recovery.

For more information, visit www.mhanational.org/may.

STD Awareness

Rates of Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in Georgia and across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 million new STDs occur each year in the United States. And did you know that young people age 15-24 are at higher risk of getting STDs? In fact, they make up half of all new STDs each year.

Many STDs don’t have symptoms. The only way to know if you have an STD to get tested. The good news is that STDs can be prevented.

All health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties provide STD testing and counseling. While we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, all health departments services are by appointment only.

Get more information on specific STDs here.

Eat Right, Bite by Bite

Choosing nutritious foods and getting enough physical activity can make a significant difference in your health. For National Nutrition Month® 2020, in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits.

Each March, the Academy focuses attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme, Eat Right, Bite by Bite, promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods every day, planning and creating healthful meals each week and the value of consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist.

“Developing healthful eating habits does not mean undertaking drastic lifestyle changes,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Jerlyn Jones, a national spokesperson for the Academy based in Atlanta, Ga. “Registered dietitian nutritionists help their clients develop individualized eating and activity plans with simple steps that can help them meet their health goals. These simple steps are developed to become lifelong habits.”

Registered dietitian nutritionists provide recipe ideas, cooking tips and other healthful advice for everyday issues such as cooking dinner or meal preparation for picky eaters. In addition, many registered dietitian nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy to help clients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. They often work as part of a medical team to help clients set nutrition goals to improve their health.

Medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist includes reviewing the client’s eating habits and lifestyle, assessing their nutritional status and creating a personalized nutrition treatment plan. Many medical plans cover the costs of seeing a registered dietitian nutritionist. To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, use the Academy’s online Find an Expert service.

Test your knowledge about nutrition: NNM_Quiz_2020_v2_Final

National Nutrition Month® was initiated in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition. The second Wednesday of March is celebrated as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day to commemorate the dedication of registered dietitian nutritionists as the leading advocates for advancing the  nutritional status of Americans and people around the world. This year’s celebration will be March 11.

As part of National Nutrition Month®, the Academy’s website will host resources to spread the message of good nutrition and the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. The public also can follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) which highlights the importance of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and community involvement in black/African American communities. 

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will hold free HIV testing events at  several locations throughout the month of February in observance of NBHAAD. Although the events are being held to commemorate NBHAAD, these testing events – and all HIV testing events offered in the Coastal Health District – are open to the public. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blacks/African Americans accounted for 43 percent of all HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2017. Currently, there are around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people don’t know they have it. Getting tested and getting those who are HIV positive into treatment right away is vital in stopping 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.

HIV Testing Events in Febuary
Thursday, February 6

12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus, Savannah

*Friday, February 7
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Walgreens, 2270 U.S. Hwy. 17, Richmond Hill
*The first 25 people to be tested at the event in Richmond Hill will receive gift cards.

Saturday, February 8
12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Savannah Civic Center (Black Heritage Festival)

Monday, February 10
12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern University, Liberty Campus, Hinesville

Wednesday, February 12 and February 19
Time TBD
Savannah State University

Thursday, February 13
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
College of Coastal Georgia, Brunswick

Celebrate Heart Month

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we join forces with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others to improve your heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. About 90 percent of middle-aged people and more than 74 percent of young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease.

Why Connecting is Good for Your Heart

Feeling connected with others and having positive, close relationships benefit our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight.       Having people in our lives who motivate and care for us helps, as do feelings of closeness and companionship.

Follow these heart healthy lifestyle tips with your friends, family, coworkers, and others in your community and you’ll all be heart healthier for it:

  • Be more physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Get enough quality sleep.
  • Track your heart health stats.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go.

Move More

Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active:

  • Ask a colleague to walk with you on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both show up.
  • Join an exercise class at your local community center and bring a neighbor along. Carpool or walk there together to make it a regular date.
  • Grab your kids, put on music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or dance.
  • Make your social time active and encourage everyone—family and friends alike—to think of fun activities that get you off the couch and moving.

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet provides ideas to get and keep you moving.

Aim for a healthy weight

Find someone in your friend group, at work, or in your family who also wants to reach or maintain a healthy weight. (If you’re overweight, even a small weight loss of 5–10 percent helps your health.) Check in with them regularly to stay motivated. Do healthy activities together, like walking or playing on a neighborhood sports team. Share low-calorie, low-sodium meals or recipes. Check out NHLBI’s Aim for a Healthy Weight web page.

Try these tips each day for a month to keep your heart healthy.

Eat heart healthy

We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Together, try NHLBI’s free Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Research shows that, compared to a typical American diet, it lowers high blood pressure and improves blood cholesterol levels. Find delicious recipes at NHLBI’s Heart Healthy Eating web page.

Quit smoking

To help you quit, ask others for support or join a support group. Research shows that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can also help you quit.   All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov.

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider those around you: Breathing other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Thousands of adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Manage stress

Reducing stress helps your heart health. Join with a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga, or meditation, or participate in a stress management program together. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone else you trust.

Improve sleep

Sleeping 7–8 hours a night helps to improve heart health. De-stressing will help you sleep, as does getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk instead of a late afternoon nap! Family members and friends: remind each other to turn off the screen and stick to a regular bedtime. Instead of watching TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath.

Track your heart health stats, together

Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts: Tracking Your Numbers worksheet.

Visit #OurHearts for inspiration on what others around the country are doing together for their heart health. Then join the #OurHearts movement and let NHLBI know what you’re doing with friends, family, or others to have a healthy heart. Tag #OurHearts to share how you’re being heart healthy together.

Cervical Cancer Awareness

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Coastal Health District wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The good news?

  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties encourage:

  • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

HPV Vaccine

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone through age 26. There are additional recommendations for those over the age of 26.

For more information, check out gachd.org/hpv.

Here are some more great resources:

How to Talk to Your Pre-Teen about HPV Vaccine

HPV Vaccine Information

HPV Safety Fact Sheet for Parents

HPV & Cancer


Cervical Cancer Screening

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.

Get more information on BCCP here.

Five Minutes for Better Health in 2020

A new year is a great time for a fresh start but it’s not always easy to keep resolutions. Why? Oftentimes, we set lofty goals and become overwhelmed at the thought of trying to accomplish them. What if taking some healthy steps to improve your life only took five minutes – or less? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come up with tips that do just that.

Here are six basic steps we can all take to make sure good health stays on the forefront in 2020.

Get more Five Minutes (or Less) Healthy Tips here.