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Several North Georgians receive No-Cost-To-Client Flu Shots

Flu shotNorth GASince health departments in north Georgia began providing flu shots at no cost to clients this week, 640 residents have taken advantage of the offer and others are urged to do the same while supplies last. This number contrasts favorably to the total of 190 flu shots provided by the health departments during the previous week. 

Flu activity continues to be widespread in the U.S., and last week, the number of flu-related deaths in Georgia sharply increased, prompting public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties to begin providing flu shots at no cost to residents who have not yet been vaccinated. Healthcare plans are billed for clients who have coverage and there is no charge to anyone who is not insured. No appointment is necessary – “Walk-ins” are welcome.


The current flu vaccine is highly effective against most influenza strains that are now circulating, and county health departments in north Georgia also have high dose flu vaccine for people ages 65 and older, providing them with increased protection.


It is not too late to get a flu shot. This flu season has not yet peaked and it could last several more weeks. Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full protective potential. Therefore, it is important to receive a flu shot right away.


Locations and phone numbers for the no-cost-to-client flu shots at county health departments in north Georgia 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


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. Parents should keep children who are sick with the flu at home from school, and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay away from places such as hospitals and long-term care facilities where people are more at risk for developing severe complications if sick with the flu.


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

FEBRUARY is American Heart Month

By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Be One in a Million this American Heart Month

American Heart MonthFebruary is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. This month, we are highlighting Million Hearts™, an initiative dedicated to preventing the nation's leading killers and empowering everyone to make heart-healthy choices.

We can fight back against heart disease and stroke.

Launched in September 2011 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Million Hearts™ is a national initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S.

Visit your local county health department today! Find locations, phone numbers and hours of operation for health departments in North Georgia at the above LOCATIONS tab.

Take the Million Hearts™ Challenge Today

Prevention starts with everyone. Protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke by understanding the risks and taking these steps

  • Drive the initiative by challenging your family and friends to take the Million Hearts™ pledge at
  • Get up and get active by being physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Know your ABCS:
    • Ask your doctor if you should take an Aspirin every day.
    • Find out if you have high Blood pressure or Cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment.
    • If you Smoke, get help to quit.
  • Make your calories count by eating a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat.
  • Take control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.

Together, we can all be one in a million this Heart Month and every month. To learn more, visit


Other Resources

Local Hepatitis C Prevalence Project underway



HepCTesting-md.jpgNORTH 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.

Read more ...

Prevent Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

health officials advise vaccination for children and adults

pertussis babyNorth GACases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are on the rise and state and local public health officials are working together to identify and notify students and residents that have possibly been exposed.

The best protection against whooping cough is the pertussis vaccine. Babies, teens, adults, and pregnant women need to be vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended schedule. If you aren’t vaccinated, you aren’t protected.

For babies, protection against whooping cough can start before they are even born. During pregnancy, women should get the Tdap vaccine, a shot combining protection against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.  Also, other people, including grandparents, siblings and babysitters, should get their pertussis vaccine at least two weeks before coming into contact with a baby.

Babies begin their series of vaccines against whooping cough at 2 months of age with their first dose of DTaP. Like Tdap, this shot combines protection against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. The series is completed by getting additional doses at 4 months, 6 months, 15 through 18 months, and 4 through 6 years of age. Since the protection the DTaP vaccine provides young children decreases over time, preteens need the Tdap booster shot at 11 or 12 years old. The CDC recommends one dose of Tdap for adults who did not get Tdap as a preteen or teen.

If you or your child has been around someone with whooping cough, you may become sick with it, as well. This is especially true when you or your child has not received all recommended pertussis vaccinations. Sometimes, even if your shots are up to date, you may still get whooping cough, but the symptoms are usually milder with a shorter illness and it is less likely to spread.

Pertussis is also called whooping cough because of the “whooping” sound that comes from gasping for air after a fit of coughing, making it difficult to breathe. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to ten weeks or more. But even worse, pertussis can cause serious and potentially life-threatening complications in infants and young children who are unvaccinated or under vaccinated. Children younger than 1 who contract pertussis are more prone to hospitalization, acquiring pneumonia, convulsions, apnea, and encephalopathy, and 1 percent will die.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and cough, which becomes much worse over 1 to 2 weeks.  Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (“coughing fits”) followed by a whooping noise. However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop. There is generally only a slight fever. People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough.

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“Sickly” raccoon in Ellijay tests positive for rabies

Sickly looking raccoonEllijay (GA) A raccoon that was recently found in a residential area of Ellijay in Gilmer County, Georgia has now tested positive for rabies.


The raccoon was out during the daytime on May 9 and appeared to be sickly as it wandered in the campground area of Coosawattee River Resort, a gated community in Ellijay. A resident, concerned about the danger the raccoon might have posed to people and pets in the neighborhood, shot the animal so it could be tested for rabies.

The raccoon was tested by the Georgia Department of Public Health Laboratory on May 10 and the positive results were reported on May 11.

There was no known human or domestic animal exposure to the raccoon.

Health officials are continuing to remind the public to avoid all wild animals and pet owners should maintain rabies vaccinations in their pets. If a pet receives an initial one-year vaccine, it can receive a three-year rabies vaccination on the following year.


Rabies is prevalent in wild animals such as raccoons and skunks but can be found in coyotes, foxes, bats, bobcats and other wild carnivores. Rodents and opossums are rarely found with rabies, but a bite from any wild mammal should cause concern and be reported to a healthcare provider and the local environmental health office.


Children should be warned to avoid contact with wild mammals and any stray dog or cat and to report any contact with these animals to an adult right away.

For more information about rabies and its prevention, log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at


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