Peak flu season is beginning to hit early. Triad hospitals are dealing with a surge of sick patients. Cone Health leaders say emergency room visits are stacked with people experiencing flu-like symptoms.

You can get the flu anywhere - school, work, even out at the store, so you need to know the do's and don'ts for avoiding the virus.

At Cone Health Hospitals - doctors are seeing higher numbers of flu patients every week. If you're one of those people who start feeling flu symptoms, DO check with your primary care physician, whether it's a call or a visit, as soon as possible. That way they can prescribe you the right antiviral medications like Tamiflu. If you end up getting it, DO take it within the 24 to 48 hours. That's when it's most effective.

Even if you get your flu shot - you're not completely immune to all strains of the virus.

“it's this predominant influenza A H3N2. The vaccine is it well matched for it, so unfortunately I think the vaccine is good to get it better than nothing so it is probably not going to be as effective as we had hoped,” said Dr. Cynthia Snider, an infectious disease with Cone Health.

You DON’T want to avoid getting the flu shot just because you think it won't work. Doctors say getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do. Those who are most vulnerable to the virus are the very young and the elderly.

You also DON'T need to visit anyone in the hospital if you have a runny nose - cough - sore throat or fever. Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health, and Novant Health put in visitor restrictions for the rest of the flu season. If you must visit someone at the hospital, DON’T bring your kids with you.

“They can carry influenza viruses not have as many symptoms,” said Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease doctor with Novant Health, “So to keep our patients safe in buildings, we say it's best if you don't bring children into the hospital to visit.”

Already, 26 people died from the flu in North Carolina. If you have the flu, or even a cold this time of year, doctors say it's important to stay home, stay hydrated -- and if you need to, take something Tylenol for a fever.