Board of Health hears concerns about flu strain

by Bradley Hartsell


Coweta County Health Department nurse manager Alice Jackson, left, stands with her replacement, Dana Scales, at Tuesday’s Board of Health meeting. Jackson is retiring after 29 years at the end of the month. 

This is a hard-hitting flu season, the Coweta County Board of Health heard Tuesday.

The health board held its bi-monthly meeting at the Coweta County Health Department, discussing the current flu season as well as introducing new county nurse manager Dana Scales.

There have been 31 recorded deaths in Georgia due to flu this season, said Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo, director for District Four Public Health in west Georgia. The strain is unique, according to Obasanjo, because it’s targeting young adults, as opposed to small children and the elderly.

He said the H1N1 flu strain hasn’t been the predominant virus since 1918 and, as such, people haven’t built any resistance to it, causing a more dangerous flu season.

All 31 flu-related deaths were people who did not get vaccinated, Obasanjo said.

“Vaccination is still the number one way to prevent the flu,” he told the local health board. According to Obasanjo, vaccination doesn’t automatically prevent flu, but if the 31 people had gotten vaccinated, their chances of getting the illness or at least having the illness reach such a critical point would’ve been reduced dramatically.

The information coincides with the Coweta County Health Department recently giving out free vaccinations. Current county nurse manager Alice Jackson, who’s retiring at the end of the month and participated in her final board meeting, said the health department made the vaccines free several weeks ago in an effort to not waste any vaccine they had available.

In other business Tuesday: • Board Chairman Jim Wright welcomed Scales to the health department. She will take Jackson’s place at the end of the month. Scales brings 12 years of nursing experience, has a military background and helped develop the employee health program at Newnan Hospital, now Piedmont Newnan.

“She has a lot of great experience, she has a strong desire for serving the community and giving back to public health,” said Director of Nursing/Clinical Services for Georgia Health Department Wendy LeVan, in introducing Scales.

Obasanjo mentioned the board will miss Jackson for her 29 years of service.

“I’ll miss the people,” she responded with a smile.

• Financial reports from Brigid Smith indicated the county is slightly ahead of last year in terms of revenue, while Obasanjo re-stated goals to get the district accredited by the state and increase the social media presence.

• Brian Helms received recognition from Dr. Obasanjo and Wright for his 15 years of service with environmental health.

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