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Jasper (GA) - Striving for excellence in immunizations every day, the Pickens County Health Department in Jasper, Georgia was recently recognized for demonstrating leadership and influence in getting Georgians immunized. At this year’s Immunize Georgia Conference, coordinated by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Pickens County Health Department staff was presented with the Walt Orenstein Champions for Immunization Award. This award, named after Walter A. Orenstein, MD, DSc (Hon) of the Emory Vaccine Center and Emory University, honors individuals, agencies or coalitions that demonstrate excellence in providing immunization care.

“The staff at the Pickens County Health Department was very excited to receive the Walt Orenstein Champions for Immunizations Award,” said Leyna Mashburn, RN, BSN, health department nurse manager. “From the clerks at the front desk to the nurses in the back, each staff member plays an integral role in making our immunization program a success. We strive to increase awareness about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases in our community through various outreach opportunities. The Pickens County Health Department is working towards keeping the citizens of Pickens County healthy!”

Clinicians at the Pickens County Health Department routinely incorporate immunization needs assessments into every client visit, from Family Planning counseling to STD testing to Child Health consultations. Client immunization records are accessed through Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services (GRITS) and clients are strongly encouraged to receive all required and recommended vaccines to ensure they are up-to-date.

Staff continuously works with community partners to promote vaccines in every age group by working closely with schools, daycares, private providers and businesses to increase immunization rates for children, teens and adults.

They also identify any immunization issues or difficulties that need to be addressed.

When cases of infectious diseases, such as pertussis, were identified in local schools, the Pickens County Health Department collaborated with the schools to identify, test and treat patients and conduct vaccination clinics, as needed. They coordinated with the district health director, infectious disease staff and public information officer to prepare information for distribution to local physicians’ offices and to the community.

Ashley Ridley, RN, BSHA, North Georgia Health District Immunization Coordinator, said, “Dynamite comes in small packages. The Pickens County Health Department may be comparatively small; however, the staff makes a significant impact on their community and the patients they assist. Due to their hard work and determination to increase immunization coverage and decrease vaccine-preventable diseases, they deserve to be recognized for the arduous work they do on a daily basis.”


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