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

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County Health Departments Host No-Cost Flu Vaccine Clinic Dec. 12

Haven’t had your flu shot yet? Now you’ve got another good reason to get vaccinated: the Coastal Health District is hosting a one-day flu shot clinic on December 12th, offering vaccinations at no cost to you.

“A flu shot is your best protection against getting the flu,” says Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “No one wants to spend the holidays feeling miserable and spreading the flu to family members and friends. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, we’re hoping this clinic will motivate you to get vaccinated.”

On Thursday, December 12th, all 8 counties in the Coastal Health District will offer flu shots from 8 am – 6 pm (some clinics close for lunch from noon-1 each day, so check the hours for your county).

If you don’t have insurance, the flu vaccination will be provided for free. If you do have insurance, we’ll bill your insurance company, but you’ll pay no out-of-pocket cost.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. Flu is already circulating in the state, so it is important to take preventive measures now.

Keep Germs Away This Winter

Germs are everywhere and we can’t avoid them all but some can make you sicker than others. Protecting ourselves from certain viruses starts with good hygiene.

“Stomach Bugs”

Viruses such norovirus – or what many refer to as “stomach bugs” – can be spread in different ways, including eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated or touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth. The best way to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal viruses is to practice good hygiene on a consistent basis. That includes:

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing but they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water).
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces. You should handle soiled items carefully without agitating them. Wear rubber gloves while handling soiled items. Wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length.
  • And as always, if you are sick – whether with a stomach bug, the flu, or something else – stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone – and try to limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, and cook seafood thoroughly. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 140°F, and quick steaming processes are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.


Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning,” makes about 48 million Americans sick ever year. Safe food handling practices are key when it comes to preventing foodborne illness. Do you clean, separate, cook, and chill? Doing those four things will go a long way toward keeping potentially harmful bacteria away from the food you eat. And what about those leftovers? Here’s the lowdown from the Partnership for Food Safety and Education:

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 90 °F. This also includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Some exceptions to this rule are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 165°F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that cause illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Cooking at proper temperatures is also very important:
Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures


The Flu

Don’t let the flu take the fun out of your holidays. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated.  All Coastal Health District health departments have flu shots available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older receive a yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu and getting vaccinated is the first and best line of defense against the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and provide the body protection.

On average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections and it is estimated that more than 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza-related illness.

The flu virus is easily spread through coughs and sneezes and by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s why good health habits are also important including:

• 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.

Want to know some other ways to prevent the flu? Click HERE.

Free Mammograms in 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 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, December 9, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah. 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.

Beach Advisories Lifted for Tybee Island

Updated November 15, 2019:

The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the bacteria-related beach water advisories for Tybee Island beaches.

Advisories have been lifted for:

  • Polk Street Beach (end of beach to jetty)
  • North Beach at Gulick Street (jetty to Lovell Street)
  • Middle Beach at Center Terrace (Lovell Street to 11th Street)

Recent water samples show that bacteria levels have dropped below EPA limits, and therefore the advisories have been lifted.


November 13, 2019:

The Chatham County Health Department has issued water quality advisories for 3 beach locations on Tybee Island. The advisory locations are:

  • Polk Street Beach (end of beach to jetty)
  • North Beach at Gulick Street (jetty to Lovell Street)
  • Middle Beach at Center Terrace (Lovell Street to 11th Street)

graphic showing the beach water advisory signsThese advisories are only for the areas specified above and do not impact the other beach areas on the island. 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 weekly on Tybee Island, and 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 Chatham County 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.

Raccoon in Georgetown Area Tests Positive for Rabies

A raccoon on Westminister Road in the Georgetown area of Chatham County has tested positive for rabies. A family dog had contact with the raccoon. The dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations and will undergo observation for 45 days as a precaution.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Chatham County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.

Long County Health Department Schedules Flu Clinic

The Long County Health Department will hold a walk-in flu vaccination clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 5. No appointment is necessary and flu shots will be given on a first come, first served basis. Cash, checks, credit cards, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted. Flu vaccine consent forms can be printed and filled out ahead of time at www.gachdorg/flu.

Getting vaccinated is the best protection against the flu and the flu vaccine is recommended for those six months of age and older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity usually begins to pick up in October and flu season can last as late as May.

In addition to getting vaccinated, residents should also take the following actions to prevent flu:

  • 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.

World AIDS Day Observance Events Scheduled in Chatham County

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will  hold several “community conversations” along with free and confidential HIV testing events in observance of World AIDS Day.

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.

According to the World Health Organization, of the 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, 79% received testing, 62% received treatment, and 53% had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with no risk of infecting others.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community,” reflects the important role that communities play in all aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic – from breaking down barriers related to delivery of care, to ensuring that the epidemic remains on the forefront of both the political and human landscape.

Scheduled Events

“A Community Conversation in Observance of World AIDS Day”
West Broad Seventh-day Adventist Church
2501 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.
Saturday, November 30
10:45 a.m.


“A Community Conversation in Observance of World AIDS Day”
Impact Church en Español
5975 Ogeechee Road
Sunday, December 1
2 p.m.


*Walgreens
2109 E. Victory Drive
Monday, December 2
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
*(Gift cards to the first 50 people tested)


Star Castle*
550 Mall Blvd.
Thursday, December 5
8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
*(Free entry with HIV test. Gift cards to first 50 people tested. Must be 21+ or present valid college ID after 10 p.m.)

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.

Anyone with questions about testing can call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Beach Advisories Lifted on St. Simons Island

Updated November 13, 2019:

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the bacteria-related beach water advisories for St. Simons Island beaches.

Advisories have been lifted for:

  • East Beach at Old Coast Guard Station (Tenth St. to Driftwood Dr.)
  • Massengale Park Beach (Driftwood Dr. to Cedar St.)
  • Fifth Street Crossover Beach (Cedar St. to Ninth St.)
  • South Beach at the Lighthouse (Ninth St. to the Pier)

Recent water samples show that bacteria levels have dropped below EPA limits, and therefore the advisories have been lifted.


Updated November 6, 2019:

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the bacteria-related beach water advisories for Jekyll Island at the South Dunes Picnic Area (Corsair Beach Park to South Water Tower) and Middle Beach at the Convention Center (Beach Pavilion to Corsair Beach Park).

The advisories were issued on November 5, 2019 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.

The following Glynn County beaches remain under advisory:

St. Simons Island

  • East Beach at Old Coast Guard Station (Tenth St. to Driftwood Dr.)
  • Massengale Park Beach (Driftwood Dr. to Cedar St.)
  • Fifth Street Crossover Beach (Cedar St. to Ninth St.)
  • South Beach at the Lighthouse (Ninth St. to the Pier)

Meanwhile, a previous beach water advisory for Jekyll Island’s North Beach at Dexter Lane (Tallu Fish Ln. to Brice Ln.) was lifted on Nov. 5 based on results from recent water tests.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signsThe Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands every week 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.

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

The areas are being re-tested this week, and the advisories will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards.

For more information, including Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, visit our beach water testing page.

Bacteria-Related Beach Water Advisory Lifted for North Beach on Jekyll

Updated November 5, 2019:

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the advisory for North Beach at Dexter Lane on Jekyll Island (Tallu Fish Lane to Brice Lane).

The advisory was issued on October 29, 2019 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.


October 29, 2019

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

This advisory is based on results from routine, weekly water sample tests for bacteria found in humans and some wildlife, and this testing program is not related to the capsized cargo carrier in St. Simons Sound. The Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division tests water on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands every week of the year, screening for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria. When a beach is under advisory, it means that 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.

Periodic advisories are not unusual, particularly during warmer months when bacteria thrive. It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

This beach water advisory is to alert 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. No other beach areas are affected. 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 about beach water testing, click here.

Flu Vaccine Available at Health Departments

It may still feel like summer outside, but this year’s flu season has already begun. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against flu and the health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties now have flu vaccine available. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age, including pregnant women.

“Flu seasons can vary in length and severity. The one thing that remains constant is the fact that influenza can be dangerous,” said Coastal Health District Health Director, Lawton Davis, M.D. “That’s why it is so important to get a flu shot every year.”

It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for the vaccine to provide the body with protection against the 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:

  • 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.

For more information or to download the vaccine consent form ahead of time, go to www.gachd.org/flu.

The following drive-through flu vaccination clinics have been scheduled:

Glynn County
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, October 24
Glynn County Health Department (2747 Fourth St.)
Cash, checks, credit/debit cards, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.

Camden County
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, November 2
Lowe’s in Kingsland (1410 East Boone Avenue)
Cash, checks, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.

McIntosh County
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday, November 7
McIntosh County Health Department (Hwy. 57 in Townsend)
Cash, checks, credit/debit cards, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.