Ottawa public health officials say there have been 81 cases of influenza reported in Ottawa this season, including the death of an elderly person linked to the virus

Dr. Carolyn Pim, Ottawa Public Health

Dr. Carolyn Pim, associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health, said flu season is "upon us." (CBC)

Of the 81 cases of influenza reported, the majority have been H1N1, the strain at the heart of the "swine flu" outbreak from several years ago, according to Dr. Carolyn Pim, associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health.

"It is in the flu vaccine this year, as it has been since the pandemic," she said. "We would encourage people to get the vaccine so that they can be protected."

"This is a harder-hitting flu than your garden-variety flu," said virologist Dr. Earl Brown.

"This year it's pretty well the main virus, 80 per cent of the infections are H1N1, so it's the strong, main infector this year and that's a bit unusual since 2009.

"But these viruses jockey and trade places year after year."‚Äč

Ottawa Public Health said it is too early to know if the death is related to the H1N1 strain. The victim was in her 90s.

Clinics for kids open by appointment

Pim said while this year the flu is not as prevalent as last year, when there were around 160 cases at the beginning of January, the public health agency has seen more cases than in the two years prior to last year.

hi-cgy-flu-shot

Ottawa Public Health has opened by-appointment clinics for children under five years old on Jan. 2, 3, 6, 8, 14 and 16.

"The flu is upon us, and it's still not too late to get your shots," said Pim.

While regular flu clinics ended Nov. 28, Ottawa Public Health has since reopened the clinic at 100 Constellation for children under five years of age who have an appointment.

That by-appointment clinic was open Thursday and it will be open on Jan. 3, 6, 8, 14 and 16.

Pharmacies across the city are able to deliver flu shots to people five and older.