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District 4 Public Health

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    National Infant Immunization Week

    This is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges all Georgians to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring our little ones and everyone around them, are vaccinated and up-to-date on their immunization schedules.

    “Vaccines are crucial to protecting children before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, Interim Director of the Georgia Immunization Program. “Immunization is a shared responsibility and we as parents, family, friends and health care providers can help keep our children and our communities protected by staying current on our immunization schedule. We urge parents to speak with their pediatrician or health care provider at every visit to make sure their infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.”

    According to the most recent data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey, Georgia immunization rates for Tdap were below the national average, ranking them 39th compared to other states. Similar to national trends, the number of pertussis cases in Georgia increased in 2014 with 396 pertussis cases reported to DPH compared to the 269 cases reported in 2013. Of those 396 pertussis cases reported in 2014, 99 (26.8%) were infants < 12 months of age.

    NIIW is a call to action for parents, caregivers and health care providers to ensure that infants are fully vaccinated against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.


    For those who are underinsured or whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them, there is the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VCF program helps children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule and has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels, making a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.

    The Georgia Department of Public Health encourages everyone – in observance of National Infant Immunization Week – to protect the little ones who cannot yet protect themselves: contact your pediatrician or your local public health department to ensure your infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.

    For more information on vaccinations, click here.

    101 Georgia School Districts Tobacco-Free

    More than half – 101 out of 181 – Georgia school districts are now tobacco-free. Emanuel County Schools, Lowndes County Schools and Jenkins County Schools all recently implemented Georgia’s 100% Tobacco-Free School policy leading to this milestone in the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) work to protect the state’s children from the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke.

    Under the 100% Tobacco-Free School policy no student, staff member or school visitor is permitted to use any tobacco product or E-cigarette, at any time on school property. Eighty Georgia school districts have not signed the policy.

    “Tobacco-free schools save lives,” said Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH, director of Chronic Disease Prevention for DPH. “Ninety percent of Georgia’s smokers started using tobacco before the age of 18, and by eliminating tobacco use—including e-cigarettes—in schools, we can reduce the likelihood children in Georgia will start to use tobacco as well as protect children and adults from the effects of secondhand smoke.”

    Tobacco use causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death. In a young person, smoking can damage the heart and lungs right away and in some cases, the damage never goes away. Studies show that eliminating tobacco smoke in an environment can reduce the incidence of heart attack related hospital admissions by between 10 and 40 percent.

    “Young people are extremely sensitive to nicotine and the younger they are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to develop addiction to nicotine, and begin a lifetime of chronic disease,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “That makes prevention in Georgia schools right now so critical.”

    School districts can get help from local health departments to implement the 100% Tobacco-Free School policy. Each Health District in Georgia has a health promotion coordinator who can present the policy to the local school board and work with school administrators to implement it. In addition, youth empowerment teams will disseminate anti-smoking messages through media and social media.

    District 4 Public Health is proud to have 11 of the 12 counties in our service area with 100% tobacco-free school districts and two counties with 100% tobacco-free parks and recreation facilities.

    All Georgians, including students, 13 to 17 years old, can call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (7867) or 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863) and receive confidential counseling on how to quit smoking.

    For more information about the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco use in young people, click here. To learn more about DPH’s efforts to help schools become tobacco-free, visit the Chronic Disease Prevention section’s Tobacco-Free and Smoke-Free environments website.


    Cervical Cancer Awareness

    January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it.




    Two tests can help prevent cervical cancer—

    The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. You should start getting Pap tests at age 21.
    The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
    The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21.

    Tamika’s Cancer Survivor Story

    tamika_200Tamika F. was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer at 25 years old. Read her story and the stories of other survivors here.




    Prevent Cervical Cancer with the right test at the right time. Screening tests can find abnormal cells so they can be treated before they turn into cancer.

    More ways to reduce risk of Cervical Cancer.

    Know your body and Gynecologic Cancer Symptoms

    It is important to pay attention to what is normal for you and see a doctor is something isn’t quite right. This chart lists gynecologic cancers and some symptoms but not all symptoms. If you have questions or concerns please see your doctor.


    Vaccination Remains The Best Protection Against The Flu

    December 5, 2014

    ATLANTA – Getting a flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications. National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 7-13 and if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is a good time to do so.

    This flu season is likely to be a tough one for two reasons. First, more than 90 percent of the influenza specimens tested nationwide are Influenza A H3N2 (H3N2), and the rates of hospitalization and deaths are typically higher in seasons when H3N2 is the dominant strain. Second, about half of the H3N2 viruses found so far this flu season don’t match the vaccine produced for the 2014-2015 season. The virus has mutated, or changed slightly, since the vaccine was formulated early this year.

    While the flu can vary from season to season, the fact remains the single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine.

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    Consumer Food Safety Education

    This training video, featuring Tracsa Manson, Evironmental Health Specialist 3 from Henry County was aired at the 2014 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference in Arlington Virginia on December 4-5, 2014, hosted by the Partnership For Food Safety Education. The Consumer Food Safety Education Conference 2014 was arranged to aid consumer education specialist, food safety education specialist and regulatory officials across the country in improving consumer outreach and reaching program goals. The conference was attended by over 350 food safety professionals in Arlington, Virginia and the live broadcast streaming online reached over thousands of health and food safety officials across the country.


    Physician in Carroll County on Fridays

    The Carroll County Health Department now has a physician working in the clinic on Fridays only through the end of December to provide women’s wellness exams and inserting or removing birth control implants.

    Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. Both methods are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, last for several years, and are easy to use. Both are reversible—if you want to become pregnant or if you want to stop using them, you can have them removed at any time.

    Dr. DavidOlayinka David Ajayi is a preventive medicine resident with Emory University and Georgia Department of Public Health, District 4. Prior to joining DPH and Emory’s preventive medicine residency program, he had spent two years of surgical training at Emory General Surgery residency program and one year with Winship Cancer Institute as a research coordinator. David Ajayi has his medical degree from University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Master of Public Health degree from Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

    Dr. Ajayi is skilled at inserting and removing birth control implants such as Nexplanon or Implanon. The birth control implant is a single flexible rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It releases progestin into the body. It protects against pregnancy for up to 3 years.

    To make an appointment or for more information call the Carroll County Health Department at 770.836.6667.