Vaccine Preventable Diseases

The Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD) Epidemiology Unit in the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section has primary responsibility for conducting vaccine-preventable disease surveillance and outbreak response in Georgia. This Unit also provides extensive epidemiologic support for the Georgia Immunization Program, by performing data analyses to determine vaccine coverage rates and analyzing vaccine-preventable disease data in Georgia, to identify trends and the need for control measures or other interventions. This epidemiologic support is critical in informing and prioritizing Georgia Immunization Program activities to most effectively target limited resources to areas of greatest need.


The VPD Epidemiology Unit conducts surveillance of the following vaccine-preventable diseases:

Diphtheria (Corynebacterium diphtheriae) is a bacteria that causes a thick covering in the back of the throat, making it difficult to breathe. There are several combination vaccines used to prevent diphtheria: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td.

Measles (Rubeola) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. The disease is no longer common in the United States, however it is widespread in many parts of the world including Europe, Africa, and Asia and may be brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers. You can protect yourself and your family against measles with vaccination.

Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by the mumps virus. Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands. You can protect yourself and your family against mumps with vaccination.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial illness spread via airborne droplets from the respiratory tract of an infected person. The best way to prevent pertussis is for all children to be fully vaccinated with DTaP and for adolescents and adults to receive a Tdap booster vaccine.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly contagious disease caused by  a virus. It is spread through stool or secretions from an infected person. The poliovirus can infect the nervous system and cause paralysis, including fatal paralysis of the muscles that control breathing. Prior to the introduction of vaccine, the disease used to be common in the U.S, affecting thousands of people. You can protect yourself and your family against polio with vaccination. 

Rubella (German Measles or three-day measles) is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is spread by sneezing and cough. Common symptoms include rash and fever for two to three days. When a woman is infected with rubella during pregnancy, her infant may develop deafness, cataracts, heart defects, and liver and spleen damage. You can protect yourself and your family against rubella with vaccination. 

Tetanus, commonly called lockjaw, is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. It is contracted through a wound that becomes contaminated with tetanus bacteria. Tetanus bacteria are present worldwide and are commonly found in soil, dust and manure. Infection with tetanus can cause severe muscle spasms and "locking" of the jaw so the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow. Tetanus is not transmitted person to person. There are several combination vaccines used to prevent tetanus: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td.

Varicella (chickenpox) is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).  It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The virus can be spread from person to person through the air, or by contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters. You can protect yourself and your family against chickenpox with vaccination.  

  • Viral Hepatitis (including hepatitis C, which is currently not vaccine-preventable)


All of these vaccine-preventable diseases are reportable in Georgia. Physicians, laboratories, and other health care providers are required by law to report patients with these conditions to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Cases may be reported through the State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SENDSS), through the 24/7 reporting line, 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584), or by directly calling the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section office at the Georgia Department of Public Health, 404-657-2588.

Data and Surveillance

The VPD Epidemiology Unit collects and publishes information on vaccine-preventable disease in Georgia. This section includes the most recent reports and summaries. 


January VPD Summary Report


2011 VPD Surveillance Report


2010 VPD Surveillance Report


Georgia Immunization Study

In addition, the Vaccine-Preventable Disease Epidemiology Unit is responsible for the annual Georgia Immunization Study. The Georgia Immunization Study employs a non-experimental retrospective cohort research design to ascertain the immunization coverage rates each year for all two year-old children who were born in the State of Georgia.








Page last updated 01/08/16