RHINELANDER - Flu season is officially upon us. This year there are a number of vaccine options, even for those who hate needles.
The Oneida County Health Department recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year.
"Basically each year they look at the circulating strains around the world and decide, ok what do we guess is going to circulate in the United States and that's how they come up with the formula each year's seasonal flu shot," says Anne Ovsak, Assistant Director of the Onieda County Health Department.
If you're not a fan of needles though, there's no need to fear. A new microneedle may be an option. It's less than one tenth of an inch long. A nasal spray vaccine is also available, which may protect you even better.
"The difference between the mist and the and shot, the flu-mist is a live virus vaccine, so it's possible that you could get a little bit of the flu, or not. Some studies have shown that there's better protection against the flu by getting the live vaccine," says Ovsak.
A major reason health officials want you to get the shot, is to protect others who can't.
It's important to protect people in our community, in your own household, some people in your household may not be able to get the flu shot, so it's important that you protect them"
But the biggest vaccination motivation is quite simple…
"It is way worse to get the flu than it is to get the shot!" says Ovsak.
ACROSS WISCONSIN - Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would increase requirements for high school math and science classes students would have to take for graduation.
The bill raises the math and science requirement for graduation from two to three credits each. A computer science class could count as a math credit and an agricultural sciences course could count as a science credit.
The measure also gives schools flexibility to award math and science credits to students in career and technical education programs.
The proposal comes as the state's school districts are implementing more rigorous academic requirements. It would also bring Wisconsin more in line with neighboring states.
RHINELANDER - Most people can now successfully get through the online healthcare website. The Obama administration announced today about 365,000 people have successfully signed up.
That's well behind what the administration had hoped for at this point. Some people are still having trouble because the website isn't completely fixed. But the federal marketplace is paying some people to help.
Aylee Herr is a certified application counselor. He helps people navigate the healthcare.gov website. Today he was helping people sign up in Rhinelander.
In two months three workers in his office have only signed up 30 people in Northcentral Wisconsin.
"The number is actually going up and we are enrolling more people not just them but through our educational processes people are able to do this on their own, that's actually helping these numbers go up and the website is actually working a lot better now," says Aylee Herr, a Certified Application Counselor.
The website was designed to be at a sixth grade level. Before logging onto the site, it’s important to understand your family arrangement and household income.
“Once you get that number worked out the second step we want you to do is figure out what hospitals and doctors you prefer," says Herr. "Once you have those two in a way figured out its very easy for you to navigate the website."
The Obama administration and counselors like Herr will continue their enrollment push through the New Year. People enrolling by December 23rd can get coverage by the first of the year.
ACROSS WISCONSIN - More people enrolled into Obamacare during the month of November compared to October, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Statewide, 4,426 people enrolled into the federal health program in November.
Glitches and technical issues on healthcare.gov made coverage signup difficult in its early weeks.
Fewer than 900 people in Wisconsin signed up for insurance on the federal exchange in October.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance says the November numbers are an improvement. But J.P. Wieske, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance public information officer, says they're still shy of expectations.
"The numbers aren't nearly enough from our standpoint, and hopefully that will improve," Wieske said.
But Wieske believes that not completely because people aren’t buying insurance.
"A lot of people took advantage of the early renewal process, either small businesses or individuals." Wieske said. "So in a lot of cases while they have the ability to certainly shop on the exchange, they've already locked in a plan for next year."
Estimates say more than 550,000 Wisconsinites were uninsured before the federal law took effect. The state hopes about half of them will get insurance through the federal exchange.
Wieske says they’ll use regional enrollment networks instead of general advertising to get the word out.
"And have people available to staff those, talk to people and to get them where they need to go." Wieske said. "This stuff, while we have simplified it as best we can, it's certainly complicated."
Website improvements have helped more people access information on rates and access to purchase coverage. Even though more people are getting through the site Wieske encourages buyers to double check their coverage.
"I can't emphasize enough that you think you have coverage, you've signed up through the exchange and you haven't received any confirmation, it's worth your time just to call the insurer that you signed up with to make sure they have your information correct," Wieske said.
According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, 47,173 applications have been submitted. Those applications cover 85,863 Wisconsinites.
Between October and November, 5,303 Wisconsinites have successfully selected and enrolled into a marketplace plan.
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