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Ellijay, GA —The Gilmer County Health Department was recently awarded the Walt Orenstein Champions for Immunization Award, recognizing their exceptional efforts in 2023 to protect the public against vaccine-preventable diseases.

This award, named after Walt Orenstein, a highly esteemed professor of medicine and associate director of the vaccine center at Emory University, honors those who exemplify standards for child, adolescent, and adult immunization practices, which are a national strategy to protect the public against vaccine-preventable diseases and provide guidelines and resources for immunization providers.

The award was presented to the Gilmer County Health Department and one other health department at the recent Immunize Georgia Conference held in Atlanta by the Georgia Department of Public Health. The conference aims to educate healthcare providers on the latest recommendations and best practices in immunization services and to give public health immunization champions special recognition for their leadership and influence in immunizing Georgians.

Robin Coffey, the Immunization Coordinator for the North Georgia Health District, praised the Gilmer County Health Department's employees for their dedication to their community and profession. She stated that over the past year, they provided 3,753 immunizations, conducted 21 off-site immunization clinics at businesses, long-term care facilities, and schools, and served more than 274 new clients in their Gilmer County International Travel Clinic. Additionally, the staff assisted other county health departments by helping with visits to homebound patients and training new employees.

Despite facing challenges of short staffing at times, the team at the health department remained committed to offering a wide range of public health services such as family planning support, assistance with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), travel clinic services, and walk-in immunizations, highlighting their unwavering dedication to the community.

Receiving this award is truly a remarkable achievement and a testament to the hard work and commitment of the department's staff. Congratulations to the Gilmer County Health Department on this well-deserved recognition!