This week, ETSU Student Health Services is raising awareness of rocketing flu rates in Tennessee by providing students with announcements on preventative measures.

“With indications that this flu season may be severe, taking steps to prevent the spread of flu at ETSU is imperative,” said Dr. Wilsie Bishop, vice president of Health Affairs.

Bishop said that, as of late December, all national key flu indicators were elevated with 43 states experiencing either high or widespread flu activity, citing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recent death of 15 children prompted the CDC to declare this year’s flu an epidemic.

According to the state’s Department of Health, six of those children were Tennessee residents.

With the new strains of the flu predicted to peak in mid February of this year, the worst has yet to come.

While there’s still time to react, the ETSU Student Health Services center has announced a six step plan to combat the season.

Students should get vaccinated for flu and maintain proper hygiene by covering their mouths and noses when they sneeze, not forgetting to wash their hands with soap and water.

This year’s flu season has been a shock for experts. According to the CDC’s 2013 report, influenza-like illness in the U.S. began increasing in mid-November, and toward the end of December, ILI was high across most of the country.

Comparably, the 2014 flu season didn’t hit high contraction rates until early January.

However, getting inoculated with this year’s vaccine can still protect students from certain strains of influenza.

Those flu strains elected by the CDC to be inoculated for haven’t completely died out despite the fact they aren’t the most prevalent ones. Student Health Services recommends that all students get this year’s vaccine as soon as possible.