Six deaths in the state as current season shapes up to be severe

SEATTLE – Cases of the flu are increasing across the country, and Regence BlueShield in Washington is joining with the Washington State Department of Health to encourage people to get a flu shot, which is covered under Regence health plans, and to take other simple measures to protect themselves from the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who is at least 6 months old should get vaccinated this season. The CDC adds that it’s especially important for pregnant women; people with conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, as well as the people who care for them; and people age 65 and older.
“Vaccination provides the best protection against the flu, and we want everyone, including Regence members, to know that flu shots this year are still available,” said Richard Popiel, M.D., Regence senior vice president of Health Care Services and chief medical officer. “The vaccination is covered for Regence members, and they can find in-network pharmacies, doctors and hospitals at”
“Vaccination is an important step in staying healthy,” says State Health Officer and pediatrician Dr. Maxine Hayes. “Other important ways to avoid the flu include washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.”
The Department of Health created some fun education materials and a downloadable phone ringtone to encourage people to the simple step to help stop the flu. Check it out at
To avoid spreading the flu, people who do get sick should stay home for 24 hours after they’ve been symptom free. More information about the seasonal flu is available from the CDC.
About Regence BlueShield
Regence BlueShield is a leading health plan in Washington with nearly one million members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence BlueShield is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and is affiliated with Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah. Together, the companies serve more than two million members in the Northwest/Intermountain Region. The Regence affiliated companies are committed to improving the health of its members and communities, and to transforming the health care system. For more information, please visit or