Healthy people, families, and communities.



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We're closed for a State Holiday on Friday, April 7th. This includes all district and county Public Health offices, departments, programs, and services in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.

MAKO COVID-19 Drive-thru Testing in Dalton will also be closed that day.

We look forward to serving you when our regular hours of operation resume on Monday, the 10th.

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It’s National Public Health Week! For this NPHW, we join the American Public Health Association and related public health agencies nationwide in looking to community leaders as our health leaders. As we celebrate the unique and joyful ways different cultures focus on health, we look to how we can learn from each other, with humility and openness. Learn more at

Xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer not approved for human use, has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths nationwide in the evolving drug addiction and overdose crisis.1 Studies show people exposed to xylazine often knowingly or unknowingly used it in combination with other drugs, particularly illicit fentanyl.1–4

Key Facts About XylazineKey Facts About Xylazine
While the full national scope of overdose deaths involving xylazine is unknown, research shows overdose deaths linked to xylazine have spread westward across the United States, with the largest impact in the Northeast. From 2015 to 2020, the percentage of all drug overdose deaths involving xylazine increased from 2% to 26% in Pennsylvania. Xylazine was involved in 19% of all drug overdose deaths in Maryland in 2021 and 10% in Connecticut in 2020.1 

Research has shown xylazine is often added to illicit opioids, including fentanyl,3 and people report using xylazine-containing fentanyl to lengthen its euphoric effects.1 Most overdose deaths linked to both xylazine and fentanyl also involved additional substances, including cocaine, heroin, benzodiazepines, alcohol, gabapentin,3 methadone, and prescription opioids.7

Also known as “tranq,”5 xylazine is a central nervous system depressant that can cause drowsiness and amnesia and slow breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure to dangerously low levels.6,7 Taking opioids in combination with xylazine and other central nervous system depressants—like alcohol or benzodiazepines—increases the risk of life-threatening overdose.1,8 Learn more about the effects of taking more than one type of drug (polysubstance use) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the event of a suspected xylazine overdose, experts recommend giving the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone because xylazine is frequently combined with opioids.9 However, because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone does not address the impact of xylazine on breathing.1,3,8 Because of this, experts are concerned that a growing prevalence of xylazine in the illicit opioid supply may render naloxone less effective for some overdoses.1,2,10 Emergency medical services should always be alerted to a suspected overdose. Learn more about stopping overdose from the CDC.


Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week Web Article Banner

Preteens Need to Stay Up to Date on All Recommended Vaccines 

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The Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an annual observance aimed to help raise awareness and encourage preteens to make smart, healthy choices including defending themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases. Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools, health care providers and the media about preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia’s pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students.

CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that 11 and 12-year- olds receive Tdap, MenACWY, HPV vaccine, and an annual flu vaccine. Some preteens may also need to catch up on other immunizations, including chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), hepatitis B, and COVID-19.

In an effort to keep every adult and child safe, please join the Georgia Department of Public Health in recognizing March 13-17, 2023, as Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week. This week serves as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Facts About Preteen Vaccine and Awareness for Georgians

group childrenFor preteens:

  • Getting shots may sting a little, but it is much better than getting sick. Immunizations will help you stay healthy so you can do the things you love instead of being sick in bed.
  • It is very important for you to get your shots because you can spread diseases to others, even before you feel sick. If you get your shots, you will also help keep your friends, family, and school healthy.
  • Vaccines are available at our Public Health Departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.