Flu Vaccine Is Available Without An Appointment

District 4 Public Health

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    Don’t Procrastinate, Schedule a Time to Vaccinate

    The holidays are meant for gathering with family and friends, decorating, and indulging in delicious meals. Don’t let the flu virus keep you stuck in bed. National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is Dec. 6-12, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) encourages all Georgians 6 months of age and older to get a yearly flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established NIVW week in 2005 to take a proactive approach to educating the community and health care sector about influenza disease. Take this time and schedule an appointment with your health care provider or your local public health department to get your flu vaccine.

    “We want Georgians to understand how simple and convenient it is to receive a flu vaccine,” said Sheila Lovett, immunization director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Doctors’ offices, health departments, clinics, pharmacies and even some schools and employers offer the vaccine. It’s a short time to commit to staying healthy through the holidays.”

    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, people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions.

    The best protection against the flu is a flu vaccine. With “flu season” beginning as early as August and sometimes lasting until May, it is never too late to vaccinate. The vaccination is available in both the shot and nasal spray form.

    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. So this winter, Georgia Department of Public Health encourages all Georgians take those few minutes to call your doctor’s office, pharmacy or health department and make a date to vaccinate.

    For more information on immunization, click here.

    Step Up, Step In!

    Step Up, Step In (SUSI) is a social marketing campaign developed through a partnership between the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Network to End Sexual Violence (GNESA). These organizations provided funding to create awareness on the topic of bullying and its impact on youth in Georgia. The program requires partnering with middle or high schools to reduce the incidents of bullying (unwanted touching, spreading rumors, name calling, sending inappropriate texts or pictures) by promoting awareness and empowering students and staff to hold each other accountable for observed bullying behavior.

    Eight health districts in Georgia received funding to implement the bullying awareness campaign in their school districts. District 4 Public Health was one of the health districts to receive the award to be implemented in the three middle schools in Troup County. This was not prompted by any incident, but is an important issue that affects middle schools and high schools across the country.

    October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so most of the campaign activities/events are taking place during that month. SUSI Advisory Teams have been established at each school to help coordinate the activities. Troup County middle schools are promoting the campaign by designating a home football game as their SUSI Awareness game. T-shirts and sunglasses with the SUSI logo are being distributed to students attending the game and football players are wearing lime green socks – the SUSI campaign color. Fact cards with information and statistics about SUSI are being distributed to parents and also placed in the front office of each school.

    During Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, middle school students will also bring awareness to the SUSI campaign by dressing appropriately to highlight the anti-bullying message. Classroom door decorating contests about SUSI will take place at each middle school and one homeroom from each grade will be chosen as the winner and receive a pizza party. Morning announcements are being made by members of the SUSI Advisory Team to inform students about the harmful effects of bullying and how to be an active bystander by “Stepping Up” to bullies and “Stepping In” to help.

    Getting students involved in the campaign will help make students aware of the problem and empower them to take all forms of bullying seriously; when they see it, report it to a trusted adult. The good news is that most kids aren’t behaving this way. They do, however, witness these behaviors and either feel powerless to stop it or turn a blind eye. At the end of the campaign, students will be asked to sign a pledge to help stop bullying in their school, in their community and in Georgia.

    Beth Daniel- Health Promotion Coordinator

    For pictures of the event so far, visit our Facebook page at District 4 Public Health.

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    Congratulations, Seth Woodrow!

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    Congratulations to Mr. Seth Woodrow for successfully passing the exam to become a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS)!! REHS credentialing is a nationally recognized, professional credentialing for Environmental Health Specialists.
    Seth has worked in Environmental Health since September of 2002 and has worked in District 4 for most of those years. He is currently the Environmental Health Manager for Lamar County and is also the recent recipient of the Environmental Health Specialist of the Year Award presented by the Georgia Public Health Association.

    Great job, Seth!

    National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.4% of women will develop breast cancer. There are a lot of factors that could increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer such as genetic alterations, mammographic breast density, family history, personal history, and many additional factors. If current incidence rates continue the same, a little girl born today has a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    This month, raise awareness, get involved, and find out more about early detection. There are many different ways to be involved. Click here for more information about how we are involved. Click here to find out how you can be involved.

    National Breast Cancer Foundation has tool kits, educational resources and fundraising opportunities available for you! Your local health department can provide clinical breast exams to help you make healthy steps forward.

    National Preparedness Month

    September is National Preparedness Month.

    National Preparedness month is a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools.

    District 4 Public Health encourages residents to increase their level of preparedness by creating a family disaster kit, making an emergency plan, learning more about natural disasters and potential terrorist’s threats, and getting involved in emergency preparedness efforts in your community.

    Get a Kit – A disaster kit should be stored in an easy to carry bag and contain water, nonperishable food items, a basic first aid kit, tools and supplies (matches, map, battery operated radio, etc.), clothing and bedding, hygiene items and medications for each family member. Each disaster kit should also contain important family documents. Keep all items stored in airtight plastic bags. Store your kit in a convenient place accessible to all family members, and keep a smaller version in your car. Remember to rotate your food and water supply every six months to keep items fresh. If you have a disaster kit and have not reviewed the items recently, please take this time to do so. Check to be sure that batteries in flashlights and radios are in proper working order.

    Make a Plan – It is important that each person in the family knows what to do, where to go, and who to contact during an emergency. Your family emergency plan should include contact information for all family members, a meeting location outside of the home in case of fire and outside of the neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster, and contact information for one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster. Each member of your family should be familiar with the disaster plan and where to locate the disaster supply kit in your home.

    Be Informed – Being prepared means staying informed. Check all types of media – Web sites, newspapers, radio, TV, mobile and land phones – for global, national and local information. During an emergency, your local Emergency Management or Emergency Services office will give you information on such things as open shelters and evacuation orders.

    Get Involved – In the event of a large-scale public health emergency, persons 18 years and older with a variety of skills and experiences, both medical and non-medical, will be needed to assist and support the existing public health infrastructure. Experience has proven that effective emergency response requires volunteers to be organized and pre-credentialed before a disaster or event occurs. The State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Georgia integrates government-sponsored local, regional and statewide volunteer programs to assist emergency response and public safety organizations during a disaster. For more information or to get involved, click here.

    To learn more about disaster supply kits, creating an emergency plan, natural disasters and potential terrorist threats including biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological, go to www.ready.gov and www.redcross.org/preparedness.

    Knowing what to do is your best protection during an emergency.


    First Human Case of West Nile Virus

    First Human Case of West Nile Virus
    Confirmed In Georgia
    Georgians Urged to Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes

    ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) of the season on August 7. The patient is an adult from Metro Atlanta and has recovered. Most people get WNV after being bitten by an infected mosquito and mosquitoes are still biting into the fall months in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges Georgians to protect themselves against mosquitoes.
    “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus,” said Rosmarie Kelly, Ph.D., MPH, Georgia Department of Public Health entomologist. “In the heat of summer, it can take less than 10 days to go from egg to adult mosquito.”
    Residents can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes by emptying standing water from containers – flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths – anything that holds water and gives mosquitoes a place to thrive. The most effective way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites and the best way to do that is to observe the “Five D’s of WNV Prevention.”
    • Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
    • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed.
    • 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 because they are excellent 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.

    Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash – that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.
    Anyone with questions about WNV should speak to their healthcare provider or call their local county health department, environmental health office.
    More information on WNV and mosquito repellents can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

    Fayette ‘Wellness Walk’ is Complete

    District 4 Public Health partnered with Fayetteville Main Street/Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to establish a ‘Wellness Walk’. The path is a 1-mile route around downtown Fayetteville with minimal stops for crossing intersections. The purpose of the ‘Wellness Walk’ is to encourage physical activity among residents and visitors to the area.


    Downtown Fayetteville is pedestrian-friendly with several historic landmarks within walking distance of the square. An attractive ‘Wellness Walk’ highlighting the historic buildings is an ideal way for people to engage in physical activity and also learn about the history of the area.

    The Fayetteville Main Street/DDA partnered with the City of Fayetteville to complete the downtown sidewalk enhancements that included brick inlays, benches, street lights and trash receptacles along a major portion of the walking path. A colorful tri-fold flyer with trail map/directions was developed that will designate the route and highlight the historic points of interest.


    Standing flyer boxes with card holders have been strategically placed along the path to hold the map. The City of Fayetteville Public Works Department have installed the flyer boxes every quarter mile along with mile marker posts made from recycled plastic lumber. While enjoying a walk, take time to also view the artwork on the posts done by students at Inman Park Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, Flat Rock Middle and Fayette County High School.

    The population of the City of Fayetteville is 15,000. All will have access to the ‘Wellness Walk.’ Approximately 200 adults and youth are currently using the downtown sidewalks with an estimated 10% increase after completion of the project. An average 200-pound person expends about 100 calories for every mile walked at a 20 minute-mile pace. Joggers burn about 135 calories per mile.

    Also included in the tri-fold flyer is a table that estimates how many calories you will burn on the Wellness Walk. Fayetteville has transformed a public space into an opportunity for people of all ages to engage in regular physical activity to improve their health.

    Decreased physical activity has been related to several disease conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality, independent of obesity.


    Georgia Department of Public Health Unveils Low THC Registry

    Today, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) unveiled the “Low THC Oil Registry” required by HB 1, the “Haleigh’s Hope Act.” The registry is a secure database of patients authorized to possess cannabinoid oil in Georgia. Patients and caregivers of patients who believe they may be eligible should consult with their physician about the possibility of obtaining a card allowing them to possess 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil.

    “Today marks a milestone for the state of Georgia and the Department of Public Health,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., DPH commissioner and state health officer. “Implementing HB 1 has been no small task, but individuals suffering from conditions listed in the law now have another treatment option available to them. The secure cards we developed will ensure only those who are legally allowed to possess low THC oil for medical purposes will be able to do so, and we are confident the electronic registry we have created will serve doctors and their patients quickly and efficiently long into the future.”

    HB 1 allows individuals to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC (5 percent by weight) cannabinoid oil in the state of Georgia, provided they have obtained verification from a physician with whom they have an established relationship. Individuals seeking verification must have lived in Georgia for at least one calendar year, or be less than one year old, and be currently suffering from one of the following eight conditions:

    1. Cancer, when the disease has reached end stage, or the treatment produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea and vomiting;
    2. Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries;
    3. Severe or end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
    4. Severe or end stage multiple sclerosis,
    5. Severe or end stage Parkinson’s disease;
    6. Severe or end stage sickle cell disease;
    7. Crohn’s disease; and
    8. Mitochondrial disease.

    If a patient or a patient’s caregiver meets the criteria to possess low THC oil, their physician would then enter their information in DPH’s online Low THC Oil Registry. Once the information has been entered and reviewed by DPH, a card will be issued to the individual(s) who applied. Please allow 15 business days to receive a card.

    “Low THC Oil Registry” cards will cost $25 each – the standard fee for obtaining a vital record in Georgia – and will be valid for two years from the date issued. After that time, cardholders will need to again consult with their physician about their continued eligibility and to request that they update and confirm their information into the registry.

    The decision about whether or not a physician wishes to certify an eligible individual is left entirely to their discretion. The registration process has been established by Georgia law, and it does not violate any state or federal laws. Physicians also will not risk their medical license by registering patients.

    HB 1 does not address how low THC oil is made, purchased or shipped. Neither DPH nor physicians will prescribe or dispense low THC oil. The new law also does not legalize the possession or sale of marijuana in plant form.

    The registry, as well as detailed information for the general public, physicians and law enforcement, will be maintained on the DPH website.

    Community Collaboration and Networking Event 07.01.15

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    This is an opportunity for you to:
    · Strengthen existing relationships
    · Establish new partnerships
    · Learn about available resources and potential referrals
    · Meet local health leaders
    · Improve community health outcomes
    · Share qualitative and quantitative data

    We are seeking accreditation from the National Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). This national accreditation will provide our health departments the ability to improve quality, access, services, value, and accountability to stake holders within the communities we serve.

    A pre-requisite to the accreditation process requires us to complete community health assessments. This meeting is the first of many to collaborate and share our findings with our community partners on a regional level. The meeting provides a venue to form new relationships and/or strengthen existing partnerships with a variety of human services organizations that serve the District 4 Public Health Community.

    Attendees to this FREE event will have the opportunity to briefly share the latest and greatest information about their organizations in a casual and collaborative environment. Organizations include representatives from:

    · Regional hospitals
    · Regional health departments
    · Regional Emergency Management Agencies
    · Regional Emergency Medical Service Agencies
    · Regional Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s)

    We ask that each participant provide a short (3-5 minute) overview of the following topics:
    · Community that you serve
    · Geographic area where you serve
    · Available resources/services provided
    · Opportunities to partner

    Lite bites and refreshments will be provided.

    Attendance is limited. Please RSVP to allie.crawford@dph.ga.gov no later than June 15, 2015.

    Thank you and we hope to see you there!

    Celebrating Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015

    Share the Fun, Not the Germs: Celebrating Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015

    Next Monday will be an exciting day for Georgia’s families as they celebrate Memorial Day and enjoy a long day by the pool.

    In preparation for one of the busiest swimming days of the year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Environmental Health Section are celebrating the 11th annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week this year on May 18 – 24.

    Coordinated the week prior to Memorial Day, Healthy and Safe Swimming Week raises awareness about recreational water illnesses (RWIs), pool injuries, outbreaks, drowning among aquatics and beach staff, pool owners and swimmers.

    This year’s theme, “Make a Healthy Splash: Share the Fun, Not the Germs,” places a spotlight on the importance of hygienic practices that reduce the spread of communicable illnesses while engaging in water activities. Continue reading