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

Public Health Topics

It’s Time to Vaccinate Your Pre-Teen

What would you rather face, a shot that lasts a second or a disease that lasts a lot longer?

In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health established Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, observed March 12-16, 2018, 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 aware of their health decisions. They know they should go to the doctor and get vaccinated, yet many times they just don’t go — and parents don’t see it as a priority,” said Sheila Lovett, Immunization Program Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Parents, make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against 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.


We can make history. End TB.

Often when people hear the word “tuberculosis” they think of a disease that has been long gone. But tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is still a very real problem in the United States. TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer, being responsible for the deaths of nearly 1.7 million people each year and representing the ninth leading cause of death globally. In 2016, Georgia had the 12th highest TB case rate and ranked #6 in terms of numbers of cases of active TB disease among states in the U.S.

World TB Day is recognized every year on March 24 but the more we talk about the disease and how to prevent it the better chances we have of ending TB. This year’s World TB Day theme is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free United States. We can make history. End TB.” The mission of the Georgia Tuberculosis Program is to control transmission, prevent illness, and ensure treatment of disease due to TB by using three strategies: Identifying and treating persons who have active TB; locating, evaluating, and treating contacts; and screening high-risk populations and treating latent TB infection (LTBI).

For more information on the Coastal Health District’s TB program, click HERE.

What is 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 both preventable and curable. TB can also live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). Many people who have LTBI never develop active TB.

How is TB spread?
TB bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB disease in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other people. TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers or schoolmates.

Latent TB infection means TB germs are in the body, but not enough to cause sickness or spread germs to others.

TB Symptoms
Symptoms of TB Disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB).

TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs). Other symptoms of TB disease are weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and sweating at night.

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.






Flu Information

Flu is widespread in Georgia, and more than three hundred individuals have been hospitalized with flu-related illness. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed 25 flu-related deaths so far, but that number is expected to increase.

Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor.

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend the use of antivirals such as Tamiflu® or Relenza®. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. Antivirals are used to treat those at high-risk for flu complications – young children, the elderly, individuals with underlying medical conditions and women who are pregnant. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

The predominant strain of flu circulating in Georgia and around the country is influenza A (H3N2). This strain can be particularly hard on the very young, people over age 65, or those with existing medical conditions. H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year’s flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.

There are other things you can do to help prevent the spread of flu:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • 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 (door knobs, desk surfaces, computer keyboards, etc.)
  • If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible. If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and the bathroom once a day with household disinfectant. Thoroughly clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person before reusing.
  • If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever, without the use of a fever reducer, for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.

For Parents
Flu Guide for Parents
Is it a cold or the flu?

For Schools
Information for Schools & Childcare Providers
How to Clean & Disinfect
Cover Your Cough Flier

For Healthcare Providers
Resources for Health Professionals

For additional flu information and resources,
click HERE.

Spanish version of The “red” cover your cough poster for health care facilities asking people to cover their cough and clean their hands.


#MoveWithHeart and Celebrate American Heart Month

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

If you’re looking for some easy ways to take better charge of your health this year, here’s one: get up and move. Not only does physical activity help improve your overall health, it protects your heart, too, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). To make the point, and mark American Heart Month this February, NHLBI is launching a #MoveWithHeart campaign. Here are some facts—and some “get-moving” tips and resources—to inspire you to sit less and move more.

Why move more everyday?
Heart disease is a leading cause of death among African Americans in the United States, but fortunately adding more physical activity to your daily routine can help your heart and improve your overall health. Think about it: Being sedentary or inactive makes you nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease than if you’re active.

Being active can:

  • Strengthen your heart (even if you have heart disease)
  • Improve blood flow
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Give you more stamina and help you cope with stress
  • Help you control your weight
  • Help you quit smoking

Many types of activity can help your heart, whether it’s shooting hoops, taking an exercise class at your local recreation center, or walking during your lunchbreak. The bottom line for you and your family: Get up and get moving!

For more information about the benefits of physical activity visit the NHLBI website.

How much is enough?
As little as 60 minutes a week of physical activity such as walking briskly helps your heart. For major health benefits, aim for at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) a week. Walk around your neighborhood or the track at a nearby school, or start a walking club after church.

If you want to get the same benefits in less time, try for 75 minutes of activities, such as playing a full game of basketball, jumping rope, or working out to a fun YouTube fitness video. It’s up to you how you reach your own personal targets. For example, 30 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week is one option if you’re aiming for 150 minutes a week.   

Can’t carve out that much time at once? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 minutes a few times a day, for example. You’ll know your workout counts if:

  • Your heart is beating faster
  • You’re breathing harder
  • You break a sweat

Remember: more activity means a bigger boost to your health, so try to stay active between workouts. Here are some ideas:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Stand up when you change television channels.
  • When you hear good music, don’t just sit there, dance!
  • Stand up during meetings, or better yet, suggest a walking meeting.
  • Park in the farthest space from your destination.
  • Get off the bus one stop early.
  • Play with your kids at the playground.

When to check with your doctor

If you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, or other symptoms, talk with your doctor first. Learn more about risks of physical activity for certain groups on NHLBI’s website.

Getting regular physical activity can mean fewer doctor visits, hospitalizations, and medications. Choosing to move more whenever possible is one of the best choices you and your family can make.

Diabetes Threat

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes and more than 84 million people over the age of 18 in the United States have pre-diabetes. In Georgia alone, more than one million people have diabetes and about 44,000 Georgians are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Those are staggering numbers. There are different types of diabetes including type 1, type 2, gestational, and others. There are different risk factors for each type. The most common form is type 2 diabetes. Being overweight, having certain health problems, and not very physically active can have a definite impact on your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

Are You at Risk?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and caused by several things including lifestyle factors. Family history of the disease and other factors also play a role in determining if a person will develop diabetes.

Do you know if you are at risk for type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
Take this quick Risk Assessment to find out.

The Truth about Diabetes
There is a lot of misinformation out there about diabetes, what causes it, what you should and should not eat if you have it, etc. The American Diabetes Association sets the record straight by providing truthful answers about Diabetes Myths.

Every year, November 14 is recognized as World Diabetes Day but every day is a chance to learn about diabetes, diabetes prevention, and how to manage diabetes if you have it. Sometimes, it all comes down to your ABCs.

For more information about diabetes, check out these websites:
American Diabetes Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (at the National Institutes of Health)

Flu Season

Every flu season is different and unpredictable. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that everyone over six months of age get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and provide the body protection. So don’t wait for the flu to find you, make sure you’re protected this flu season.

Health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties have flu shots available and no appointment is necessary to get a flu shot in your local health department. 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. 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.


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
General Flu 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

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

Breast Cancer Awareness

Every October we see more pink ribbons and hear more about the importance of screening for breast cancer.  But we all know that breast cancer awareness isn’t limited to one month. The Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is a year-round program that provides breast and cervical cancer screening for women who have no insurance (or very limited insurance) and meet certain annual income guidelines. We encourage all women who think they may be eligible to contact their local health departments for more information.

Are you at a higher risk for breast cancer? Find out HERE.

Some breast cancer awareness and screening events have been planned throughout the Coastal Health District in October:

Camden County
The Camden County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the Southeast Georgia Health System Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammography Program to enroll women into BCCP, provide breast screenings, and offer free mammograms from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, October 23, at the Camden Woods Shopping Center located at 1601 Hwy. 40 E. in Kingsland. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

No appointment necessary. For more information on the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, click HERE.

Chatham County
The Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program to offer free mammograms from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1602 Drayton Street. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

Appointments are preferred but walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, please call 356-2946.

For more information on the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, click HERE.

McIntosh County
The McIntosh County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the Southeast Georgia Health System Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammography Program to enroll women into BCCP, provide breast screenings, and offer free mammograms from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, October 27, at the Bi-Lo in Darien. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

No appointment necessary.

No appointment necessary. For more information on the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, click HERE.


Take Action to Prepare!

Disasters don’t plan ahead but you can. September is National Preparedness Month and we all have a responsibility to make sure that we are ready if and when an emergency happens. How can you do your part? Have a plan for yourself and your family; look out for neighbors who may need help; encourage others to prepare; and stay aware and informed.

Step one: Make a Plan
Put together a plan and talk about it with your family. If you have to evacuate, where will you go? What will you take? How will you get there? Sounds simple enough but it’s a lot easier to plan ahead and try and figure it out at the last minute.





Step two: Build a Kit
Do you have an emergency kit? If so, when’s the last time you checked to make sure everything you need is there and up to date? An emergency kit is essential. Just look at Hurricane Matthew. A lot of us were without power for days and even weeks. Making a kit is easy and could come in very handy whether you have to evacuate or not.


And don’t forget your pets – they’re family, too! 





Step three: Maintain Situational Awareness
Watch or listen to local news when you can and always pay attention to the weather. There’s a FEMA app that you can download that will allow you to receive alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations. Learn how to shelter in place if need be but be ready to go if you are prompted to evacuate. Check with your local emergency management agency to find out if there is an alert notification system that allows you to register in order to receive emergency alerts when something is going on in your county.



For more information on how you and your family can prepare, click HERE. And check out these Resources for Kids.

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



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.