In the community discussion about the upcoming vote on fluoridation of Juneau's city water, misinformation is being circulated that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Juneau Public Health Center can provide fluoride tablets for free to all who want them. This is not true. Let me provide some facts about what the nurses at the state public health centers, located in communities across the state, can offer.
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The Juneau Public Health Center provides sodium fluoride drops or tablets to children 6 months old through 5 years of age who receive their comprehensive well child health screening services at the health center. The public health nurse spends time educating and counseling the parent on proper administration of the fluoride. The parents must provide well water testing results prior to receiving fluoride if the family is not on city water. We are not prepared, nor are we adequately budgeted, to provide fluoride tablets free to all who want them.
The emphasis of our public health centers is preventative health care. Services for children include well child health screening and immunization services for children from birth through age 5 who do not have a primary health care provider. We employ outreach to the community and provide initial health screenings. We help families access and link with a primary health care provider who can see them on a regular basis for both well and sick child care. We can also facilitate enrollment in Denali KidCare or Medicaid for eligible families. We do not have the resources to provide long-term health-care services for children.
Along with well child services, the public health centers also provide a wide variety of other health care services as part of our emphasis on preventative health care. These services include immunizations, communicable disease prevention and control, reproductive health services, and public health emergency preparedness and response activities, among others.
Chief, Alaska Public Health Nursing
Department of Healthand Social Services
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