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    NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Georgia Drug Surveillance Report Findings

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The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Drug Surveillance Unit (DSU) has detected alarming increases in drug overdose deaths among adolescents in Georgia. Please see the key findings below and the attached report containing detailed data. The report is also available on the DSU website

Drug overdoses have been increasing nationally and in Georgia in recent years, driven largely by the presence of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the drug supply. In Georgia, from 2019 to 2021, fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 230%. Among adolescents (persons aged 10-19 years), fentanyl-involved overdose deaths rose 800% in the same time period. The proportion of adolescent overdose deaths involving fentanyl rose from 25% to 80%.  

Despite these alarming increases, adolescents often lack critical information about the risks and prevalence of fentanyl, especially in counterfeit pills. These findings underscore the need for greater awareness and education around the dangers of fentanyl and its increasing presence in the illicit drug supply.  

For any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Kathleen "Katie" Curtis Kassa, MPH
Drug Surveillance Program Coordinator
Epidemiology Section 
Georgia Department of Public Health 
2 Peachtree St NW
14 Floor, Suite 14-266
Atlanta GA 30303

Omicron boostersNORTH GEORGIA – Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines that protect against current variants are available at health departments in the North Georgia Health District, which includes Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.

As stated in a Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) press announcement released September 7th, “The bivalent vaccine contains the genetic recipes for two versions of COVID-19; the original strain, plus the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, offering better protection against the currently circulating COVID-19 variants.”

Two updated boosters are available: a Moderna booster for ages 18 and older, and a Pfizer booster for ages 12 and older. These will replace current boosters for these age groups. Residents may get an updated booster two months after completing the primary series, or two months after receiving a previous booster dose. Current booster vaccines will remain available for children ages 5-11 years.

As with all COVID-19 vaccine doses, the updated booster doses are no cost to all eligible individuals; however, health insurance will be billed, if available, to cover administration fees. No appointment is required for COVID-19 vaccines during regular clinic hours. Go to our home page to find each county health department and click to access location and hours of operation.

Just as with a flu shot, it is important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccine protection. Maintaining both flu and COVID-19 vaccinations is the best way for individuals and families to be protected this winter as the holiday season approaches. This will also help protect the local community’s hospital capacity ahead of a possible winter surge.

DPH News Release banner
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                               
Sept. 7, 2022
 
                                                                                      
 
New Bivalent Covid-19 Boosters Offer Enhanced Protection
 

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) will begin offering the new bivalent COVID-19 booster this week, as shipments of the vaccine arrive in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend the bivalent booster manufactured by Pfizer for individuals aged 12 and older; and they recommend the bivalent booster by Moderna for adults aged 18 and older.

The current COVID booster doses contain the genetic recipe for the original strain of COVID-19. The bivalent vaccine contains the genetic recipes for two versions of COVID-19; the original strain, plus the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, offering better protection against the currently circulating COVID-19 variants. People should wait at least two months after completing their initial vaccination or their last booster shot before getting the bivalent booster.

At this time, the bivalent vaccine is considered only a booster. It is not to be used as the initial two-dose COVID vaccine. The monovalent mRNA CVOID-19 vaccines will still be administered for the primary series of vaccine and as a booster for children under the age of 12.

Georgia is currently seeing an average of 3,000 cases of COVID reported a week. More than 89% of newly reported COVID cases are caused by the BA.5 variant. Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID continue to decrease in the state. 

In addition to vaccination and boosters, basic prevention measures should also be followed to help prevent further spread of COVID and mitigate outbreaks of infection, especially in public settings: wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

For updates on COVID-19 follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook. For more information on vaccination and boosters, visit https://itsthatsimplega.ga.gov/.

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Nancy Nydam
Director of Communications
Georgia Department of Public Health
2 Peachtree Street, N.E., 15th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 657-2462
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Labor Day 2022Happy Labor Day! All our public health facilities in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens & Whitfield counties are closed for Labor Day, Sept 5th, but COVID-19 Testing at Pleasant Grove Park in Dalton is open from 8 AM to 3 PM. Need testing? Register at https://mako.exchange/splash/GAmakotesting/.