DUBLIN -- A total of 24 people in Ireland have died from flu so far this season, local health officials said on Thursday.

Dr. Kevin Kelleher, health officer of the Health Service Executive (HSE), a government-run body providing all public health services in the country, said that the majority of the people killed by flu had underlying health problems.

He said the deaths took place across all age groups.

The latest information suggests flu cases have either peaked last week or will peak this week, said Kelleher, adding that the current flu season, which began about a week before Christmas, is the fifth worst in the country over the past 17 years.

To prevent the spread of flu, the HSE has urged people in high-risk groups, especially old people and children, to get the flu vaccine.

The health department has made the vaccine free-of-charge to aid people in at-risk groups. (Xinhua)