Healthy people, families, and communities.



Illustration by Ray KingYears ago an acquaintance in her early twenties made frequent use of indoor tanning booths. She noticed a dark, reddish, irregular mole on her left side which was diagnosed as melanoma. Unfortunately, this skin cancer had already spread to her lymph system. She died two years later after it reached her brain. Might she have died of melanoma if she had not used tanning booths? Perhaps; but mounting strong evidence indicates a direct correlation between several skin cancers and frequent use of indoor tanning. 

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning damages DNA strands in a person’s skin cells, resulting in cancers. 

Now that summer is drawing to an end and many “tan fans” will tend to increase their use of alternative tanning methods, it is important to bear in mind that indoor tanning can be more dangerous than tanning in the sun even though tanning booths have less ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs that emit mostly ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, with smaller doses of UVB rays. UVA radiation is up to three times more intense than the UVA rays in natural sunlight, and even the UVB radiation intensity may approach that of bright sunlight. 

Despite the clear evidence that it is unsafe, the use of tanning beds is on the rise. Nearly 30 million people in the United States tan in salons every year, and most of them are women between the ages of 16 and 49.

Public Health officials urge: Maintain rabies vaccinations in pets!


Chatsworth (GA) – Two Murray County dogs were exposed to a rabies-infected skunk and one of the dogs was put down because it was not vaccinated against rabies.


Murray County Environmental Health Manager Jason Osgatharp reported that on Tuesday, August 19, the skunk was found in a pen with the dogs at a residence located on Crandall Ellijay Road, about four miles northeast of Chatsworth.


The skunk was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing and on Wednesday, August 20, the lab confirmed the positive results for rabies.


Though the one dog that was unvaccinated was put to sleep, the other dog was current on its rabies vaccination; so it only required a booster shot and will be observed under quarantine for sixty days.


There was no human exposure in this incident.


Osgatharp urges residents to maintain rabies vaccinations in their pets to protect their pets, their loved ones and themselves from rabies. He stated that a local opportunity to get pets vaccinated will be at the Discount Vaccine Clinic being held this Saturday, August 23 in Chatsworth (please click on photo at top right for details).


Murray County residents can get more information about rabies and its prevention by calling their county environmental health office at (706) 695-0266, or by logging on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website at

Public Health Drive-by Flu Shot Clinics offer 4-in-1 Flu Shot & High-Dose!


Drive by and arm against four strains of flu this fall at a Drive-by Flu Shot Clinic in north Georgia.

Fast, safe, and convenient, the Drive-by Flu Shot Clinics are conducted annually in the North Georgia Health District by public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and *Whitfield Counties. These clinics are designed to serve people quickly and efficiently as they remain in their vehicles.

This year, the Drive-by Flu Shot Clinics will offer the 4-in-1 quadrivalent flu vaccine.

Quadrivalent flu vaccine is similar to the more commonly used trivalent flu vaccine; but, instead of protecting against just three strains of influenza, quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different strains of flu, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

Also, *Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine will be available to people ages 65 and older. Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibodies) contained in regular flu vaccine to provide extra protection for people whose immune systems have become weaker with age.

*Update, 9/16:The Whitfield County Health Department's Drive-by Flu Shot Clinic will only serve people ages 65+ with the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine. Click here for more details.

The cost of the quadrivalent flu shot will be $25 and the Fluzone High-Dose flu shot will cost $50. Cash, checks, Medicare and Medicaid plus Aetna and BlueCross BlueShield Health Insurance will be accepted. The Cherokee County Health Department will also accept credit cards.

Georgia Department of Public Health Reminds Georgians of National Immunization Awareness Month

August is a busy month: planning the last family vacation, back-to-school shopping, registering for classes, moving off to college and school enrollment. Recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reminds Georgians to stay up-to-date and get a head start on vaccinations required for school.

“August is a great time of year to engage the community regarding vaccinations”, said Steven Mitchell, director of the Immunization Office of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Parents are refocusing on preparing their kids for school and it is our goal to make vaccinations a priority for both parents and students.”

August serves as a reminder that people of all ages require timely immunizations to protect their health. New this year, students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering the seventh-grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations. Every child in a Georgia school system (Kindergarten -12th grade), attending a child care facility, or a new student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231. Below are the immunizations required for child care and school attendance:

  - Diphtheria                                        - Mumps

  - Tetanus                                            - Rubella

  - Pertussis                                          - Hepatitis A and B

  - Polio                                                 - Hib disease (up to age 5 years)

  - Measles                                            - Varicella

  - PCV13 (up to age 5 years)               - Meningococcal Conjugate