Immunization is the Power to Protect Infants

National Infant Immunization Week starts April 22!

North GeorgiaGiving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases.

NIIW2017The week of April 22-29, 2017 has been declared National Infant Immunization Week, and health departments within the North Georgia Health District in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties are helping to ensure that children are protected against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by the age of two. The health departments not only provide these vaccines, but they also encourage parents to make vaccinating their children a priority and urge them to talk to family and friends about protecting their children with vaccines. Vaccines and all information are available at the local health department. Click on the LOCATIONS tab above to find the address and phone number for each of our county health departments.

Currently, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can be brought into the country, putting unvaccinated children at risk.

Most parents vaccinate their children, resulting in high vaccine coverage rates in the U.S.

When people are unvaccinated, outbreaks of diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) and measles can—and do—return.

It is important to vaccinate children on time, according to the childhood immunization schedule, to provide the best protection early in life, when babies are vulnerable and before they are likely to be exposed to diseases.

Since 1994, National Infant Immunization Week has encouraged parents, caregivers, and health care professionals to participate in increasing the awareness of the importance of immunizing children before their second birthday. Refer to the Georgia Department of Public Health's website for immunization scheduling at

Gilmer County dog attacked by rabid raccoon

RaccoonBaringTeethEast Ellijay (GA) A raccoon attacked a Gilmer County dog on March 9, 2017 and test results have now confirmed the raccoon was infected with rabies.

The raccoon came into a residential yard off Walnut Street near East Ellijay City Hall, close to Georgia Highway 515 North. After attacking the dog that lived on the premises, the raccoon was killed and the head was submitted to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory, which reported the positive rabies results on March 14.

There were no other animal or human exposures to the raccoon.

Since the dog had been previously vaccinated against rabies, it was revaccinated and placed in a 45-day home observation period during which the owner must report any illness to the Gilmer County Environmental Health Office.

Rabies is caused by a virus and is transmitted by a bite of a rabid animal through its saliva. Humans who are exposed to rabies must receive preventive treatments within a short period of time. Once rabies symptoms start to develop, the disease is almost always fatal. Humans normally start to develop symptoms in one to three months after exposure, but this incubation period can be shorter or longer.

Pet owners are strongly advised to keep their dogs and cats up to date on their rabies vaccinations. 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 your physician and local environmental health office.

Most humans who die of rabies in the United States acquired it from rabid bats. If you find a bat inside your home, do not handle it or release it to the outdoors; the bat will need to be tested for rabies if there is any chance of human contact. People are sometimes bitten in their sleep by rabid bats without knowing it.


All livestock species are susceptible to rabies including llamas and alpacas. Last year, a cow in an adjacent county was found to have rabies. Livestock animals that have regular close contact with humans or are very valuable, such as horses and show cows, should be vaccinated against rabies each year. Livestock owners are advised to consider rabies when an unknown illness occurs in an animal with possible neurological symptoms. Always have such animals examined by your veterinarian. Livestock animals usually acquire rabies from wild carnivores such as raccoons, bats and skunks.

Warn your children to avoid contact with wild mammals and any stray dog or cat and to report any contact with these animals to you right away.

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

Nw GA Emergency Responders Awarded at Annual EMS Banquet

EMS Reg 1 logo 4Web

Lana Duff The ONE 2017 4WebRinggold (GA)Several emergency responders were awarded for outstanding service to their communities at The Colonnade in Ringgold, Georgia on March 16th during the 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council Awards Banquet.

The banquet is held each year to honor Emergency Medical Services providers and stakeholders from Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield Counties for excellence in pre-hospital care, education, pioneering and special achievements. 

The 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 EMS Awards were presented as follows: 

  • Special Recognition: Air Medical Personnel

  • EMS Region 1 Person of the Year – “The ONE”: Lana Duff, Operations Manager at Angel EMS

  • David Loftin Pediatric Call of the Year: Aaron Gaddis and Eric Mantooth of Hamilton EMS, Whitfield County

  • Tommy Gayler Medical Call of the Year: Josh Everett and James Morris of Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, Paulding County

  • Dr. Richard A Gray Excellence in Trauma Award: Andrew Burnette, Cathy Green and Aaron Freeman of Gilmer County Fire and Rescue

  • Dr. James H Creel, JR. Pioneer of the Year: Tony Cooper of Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

  • Dr. Virginia Hamilton Special Achievement Award: Dr. Rashi Gupta of Kennestone Medical Center and Dennis Kelly of Puckett EMS, North Georgia Division

  • Mike Miller EMS Educator of the Year: Claudio Leyssens of Georgia Northwestern Technical College

  • Stanley Payne EMS Leadership Award: Carlton Firestone of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County

  • EMS Region 1 EMT of the Year: Samantha Kimball of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County

  • Danny Hall Memorial Paramedic of Year: Tracy Turner of Bartow County EMS

  • Region 1 EMS Service of the Year: Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

  • Dr. Paul Nassour Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Taylor of Region 1 Honor Guard, Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

Many council members, loved ones, friends and associates were on hand to offer support to the award recipients for their achievements and well-deserved recognition.

Congratulations to all award recipients for their outstanding service to their communities.

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