NORTH GEORGIA – The North Georgia Health District was honored with the 2018 Walt Orenstein
Champions for Immunization Award at the Immunize Georgia Conference, recently held for the 25th
year by the Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta. The conference is an occasion to give
special recognition to public health immunization champions for their leadership and influence in
getting Georgians immunized.
Immunization is the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, polio,
diphtheria and pertussis, just to name a few, and the Walt Orenstein Champions for Immunization
Award honors individuals, agencies or coalitions that demonstrate excellence in providing
The North Georgia Health District (district 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, based in
Dalton and comprised of Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties)
received this award due to the high level of staff commitment to reducing barriers to immunizations
through no- or low-cost vaccinations, community outreach events and flexible clinic hours to meet
the needs of the community.
“We are committed to making it possible for everyone to have access to immunizations with quality
care,” said Ashley Deverell, RN, BSN, district Immunization Coordinator. “From providing over
1200 no-cost flu vaccinations during the peak of the unusually active flu season this past winter to
being a Vaccines For Children provider so we can ensure no one is turned away from receiving
eligible vaccines based on ability to pay, our county health departments and Living Bridge
Center/Ryan White Clinic work in conjunction with public and private partners to administer all
applicable vaccines to as many people as possible.”
Immunizations have been made more accessible in North Georgia through public health in multiple
County health departments stay open until late one day a week so people who work normal business
hours can have access to services, including immunizations.
Health department staff go out into their communities to host vaccine clinics with businesses,
schools, churches and organizations as well as conduct annual back-to-school clinics and drive-thru
flu shot clinics.
They participate in various health fairs to promote immunizations and provide education about many
other health issues and public health services.
The health departments have also developed relationships with fellow county agencies, including
EMS offices and fire departments, to assist in updating vaccinations among personnel.
The Gilmer County Health Department’s International Travel Clinic in Ellijay administers
comprehensive health services to travelers, including vaccines for many diseases that a traveler may
encounter along the way such as polio, measles, typhoid and yellow fever. People all throughout
North Georgia, and beyond, take advantage of these travel clinic services due to the quality of service
and the ability to arrange prompt appointments.
The North Georgia Health District collaborates with local OB/GYN offices to offer low-cost prenatal
care and routinely administers vaccines as part of these services. Plus, the Whitfield County Health
Department offers many primary care services through their Medical Access Clinic, Women’s Clinic
and Children’s Access Clinic to ensure that people who may not have easy access to care can receive
health services, including all recommended vaccinations.
The health district’s commitment to reducing barriers to immunizations also includes a solid public
information campaign that utilizes media and social media along with community partners and
stakeholders inform the public of their need to maintain immunizations and how, when and where
to receive them.
Sherry Gregory, RN, district Infectious Disease Supervisor, said, “Our staff understands the critical
role immunizations play in preventing disease and I am proud of their diligent efforts to make
immunizations more accessible to everyone.”
DALTON, Ga. – Flu Shots are now available at NO COST to residents at public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. Healthcare plans will be billed on behalf of clients who have coverage, and there is no charge to anyone who is not under a healthcare plan. No appointment is necessary – “Walk-ins” are welcome. Residents are urged to take advantage of these no-cost to client flu shots while supplies last.
It is not too late to get a flu shot. In fact, the time is crucial. Georgia, along with 48 other U.S. states, is experiencing widespread influenza activity, with 37 flu-related deaths currently reported in Georgia, including four in north Georgia – and those numbers are expected to increase since the flu season has not yet peaked.
The current flu vaccine effectively protects against three of the four influenza virus strains that are circulating.
Locations and phone numbers for the participating north Georgia county health departments are:
- Cherokee County Health Department: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115, 770-345-7371 and 7545 North Main Street, Suite 100, Woodstock, GA 30188, 770-928-0133;
- Fannin County Health Department: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, 706-632-3023;
- Gilmer County Health Department: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540, 706-635-4363;
- Murray County Health Department: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705, 706-695-4585;
- Pickens County Health Department: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143, 706-253-2821; and
- Whitfield County Health Department: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720, 706-226-2621.
Health officials also remind the public that flu is extremely contagious and can spread easily from person to person; therefore, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms – such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue or nausea – is urged to stay home during the severest symptoms and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone. More information about preventing the spread of flu, such as frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, is on the North Georgia Health District website at http://nghd.org/pr/34-/938-widespread-flu-in-georgia.html.
Car Seat Mini Grant Awarded to
County Health Departments in North Georgia
Buckle Up Right, Every Trip, Every Time
North Georgia – County health departments in the North Georgia Health District were awarded the 2018 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the Mini-Grant, Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield County Health Departments and local collaborative partners work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families. This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.
And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the mini grant prevented serious injury or death and saved 344 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.
“The Car Seat Mini-Grant helps us meet the responsibility of keeping our children safe here in North Georgia,” said Marie Smith, RN, BSN, North Georgia Health District Nursing Director. “It provides us the opportunity to work with partners in each of our communities to help protect our children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”
In Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties, the health departments and their collaborative partners, including county EMAs, Georgia State Patrol representatives, local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families.
Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 130 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.
For more information about the car seat program at health departments in North Georgia, log onto www.nghd.org and click on the LOCATIONS tab to find contact information for each county health department in the North Georgia Health District. If you would like information regarding other Georgia counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 404-463-1487.
North GA – The North Georgia Health District in Dalton, GA and all county public health departments and services that were not previously closed in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will be closed from noon today, Monday, September 11 through the morning of Wednesday, September 13.This closing applies to all public health services and programs in these counties, including Environmental Health, WIC and Child Health Services.
For any further updates regarding closings in the district, please log onto the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org or look for the health district on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
North Georgia – The North Georgia Health District office in Dalton and our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will close early to clients and visitors on Monday, August 21st in the interest of public safety during the solar eclipse. The health departments will close at 12:00 p.m. and the district office will close at 1:00 p.m. This closing applies to all public health services in the district, including Environmental Health, WIC and Children’s Health services.
If viewing the solar eclipse, residents are urged to follow these safety precautions:
- Do not look directly at the sun
- Sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection
- Only look at the sun through an approved solar filter
- For even safer viewing, observe indirectly by projecting the sun’s image onto a blank sheet of white paper with a pinhole camera or with binoculars
For more safety information, log onto NASA’s website.
NORTH GEORGIA – Free Hepatitis C Testing is provided at county health departments in North Georgia!
As part of a statewide Hepatitis C prevalence initiative in Georgia, the North Georgia Health District is conducting the Hepatitis C Prevalence Project (HCPP), which is providing data on occurrences of Hepatitis C in the health district via free testing to those who are at higher risk of being infected with the virus. This is a two-step process that identifies and supports individuals who are living with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Hepatitis C is a contagious and sometimes persistent infection that can lead to lifelong liver disease. The Hepatitis C virus is mainly transmitted via contact with blood of an infected person. Most people are unaware they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.
But the virus can be detected through blood tests.
Therefore, the first step in the district’s HCPP process is to identify HCV infected residents through free rapid Hepatitis C virus testing at health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. These tests can produce a preliminary result in 20 minutes by using a finger stick test.
Anyone who falls within one or more of the following categories is at higher risk for HCV and is urged to take advantage of this free rapid Hepatitis C testing:
- Born between 1945 and 1965
- Past or present injection drug use
- Sharing of any drug equipment
- HIV positive
- Blood transfusions prior to 1992
- Clotting factors prior to 1987
- Sexual partner of someone who is Hepatitis C positive
- Tattoo or body piercing in an unprofessional setting
For clients who test positive in the first step, the second step is to confirm the results by drawing a blood sample that will be sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for further testing.
Once a positive test result has been confirmed, each health department assists clients in linking to services in their area. Those that qualify can enroll in the Mono Infected Hepatitis C Treatment program at the Whitfield County Health Department.
All clients are also counseled on the importance of healthy habits (avoiding alcohol and drugs, including many over-the-counter drugs), ways to reduce spread of the virus, getting contacts tested, and getting assistance to reduce the risky behaviors that exposed them to Hepatitis C in the first place. And, though there currently is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, clients are counseled on getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.
Testing is offered Mondays through Thursdays at all county health departments in the North Georgia Health District. Test days will be affected by health department closings for events such as holidays and hazardous weather.
To help meet Hepatitis C Prevalence Project objectives and to ensure that a robust demographic and epidemiological picture can be developed of the true prevalence of Hepatitis C in our district, data will be collected on all tests provided through the HCPP, for both positive and negative results.
Local county health departments can provide more information about Hepatitis C and its prevention, symptoms and treatment, or log onto the Georgia Department of Public Health website athttp://dph.georgia.gov/hepatitis-c.