A surge nationally of hospitalizations and deaths have resulted from a strain of the influenza, H3N2, that is circulating this year. So it's important to know ways to help avoid the flu. Flu season usually runs from October until May, but it's at its peak from December to February. Here are seven ways to help avoid getting the flu.

Get the flu vaccine

Every year, new vaccines are released to battle the flu viruses, which change rapidly. The vaccine causes your immune system to make antibodies that should offer protection from the viruses that are in the shot.

Avoid sick people

This should be a no-brainer, but you don't want to be around people already dealing with a bug.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

You pick up or touch a lot of things during the day. And how often do you wash your hands? All those items could be carrying the virus, so you don't want to introduce it to your body by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Clean living Washing your hands with soap and warm water can lessen the chance of you getting the flu.

Wash your hands ... a lot

Make sure to use soap and warm water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners help here, too.

Clean, clean, clean

The flu virus can be spread through the air, but a lot of times it's passed on via your hands. Disinfectants work great on your countertops, and steam cleaning can kill a lot of the germs, too.

Get enough sleep

The Future of Personal Health website says when you don’t get enough sleep, production of protective proteins called cytokines is decreased, as are your all-important infection-fighting antibodies.

Drink plenty of liquids

Drink some water. Then drink some more. And then some more. Repeat. (And if you need a new cup, here you go.)