Quebec public health officials say there's no need to be overly concerned with the H1N1 virus this year, despite it being back with a vengeance.

Already blamed for at least 20 deaths in Canada so far this winter, the virus is less of a concern for physicians because this time, it is no worse than other flu viruses that are active at this time of the year.

Though Quebecers are far from the pandemic flu season of 2009 that killed hundreds of people, health officials still say getting the flu shot is important.

That’s partly because the shot many received in 2009 is no longer protecting against the flu.

The province will not, however, have to launch a massive vaccination program like it did five years ago, because the regular seasonal flu shot people received this November already covers the H1N1 strain.

Not everyone received that shot, because priority is always given to seniors, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic health conditions. 

The public health department insists, though, the flu shot remains the best and most effective protection against the illness.

It can be obtained at most medical clinics. 

Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Horace Arruda, Quebec’s public health director, said that in 2009, we had major reasons to fear H1N1 because it was new and unpredictable. 

Fortunately, though, doctors say they had five years to study it, and many people already developed some antibodies to fight it.

“As a new virus transmitting from person to person, this is a condition we call pandemic, but those viruses that are pandemic one year become no longer a pandemic the other years, because they get into the viruses like the other ones. It's like a new car that goes everywhere,” said Arruda.

Otherwise healthy people should avoid the hospital

People who are otherwise healthy are advised not to go to the hospital if they get the flu.

Arruda said the flu will reach its peak by the end of this month, which means more people than usual will turn up in hospitals, but those most at risk remain the elderly and those with medical conditions lowering their immune systems. 

Those flu patients are advised to go to hospital, because the flu does kill an average of 300 people per year.  

For those in otherwise good health, there's little else to do but to stay home and rest, remembering that a flu can make people very sick for a couple of weeks, not to be confused with a bad cold that lasts a couple of days.