Here’s a convincing reason to go get a flu shot if you haven’t already: This year’s vaccine is 59 percent effective against the strains of flu circulating this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which monitors flu shot effectiveness. Last year’s flu shot was less than 23 percent effective against the main strains of flu, so this year’s formulation appears to do its job more than twice as well.

“If you haven’t bothered to get vaccinated because last year’s vaccine was so ineffective, that’s a mistake,” says Consumer Reports chief medical adviser, Marvin M. Lipman, M.D. “Flu season could last another month or two. A flu shot now can provide protection within two weeks and might make the difference between staying healthy or spending 10 days in bed, or even in the hospital,” Lipman says.

Someone who is vaccinated may still get infected, but according to the CDC, their illness may be milder than it would have been without the flu shot's protection.

But not everyone is getting the benefit of this year’s vaccine. According to CDC estimates, by the end of this year’s flu season only about 44 percent of adults and 59 percent of children will have gotten the shot.

“All children 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu each and every year,” says William Schaffner, M.D., professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

Yet a national poll released this month by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that 59 percent of parents who did not get their children flu shots this season rate the flu vaccine less favorably than other childhood vaccines. And overall, the survey found that 35 percent of parents polled reported that they felt the flu vaccine was "less important" than other childhood vaccines. That could explain why flu vaccination rates lag behind measles, polio, and most other childhood vaccines.

The poll also found that parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated against the flu believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as other vaccines. That may be true in some cases: For example, two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing the measles. But vaccinating children against flu is crucial.

“Although most kids recover from flu, each year flu kills children. Some of these children have underlying illnesses and are more vulnerable to flu, but some are normal, healthy children,” Schaffner says. It’s also important to vaccinate kids because when they get infected they produce even more flu virus than adults, “so they spread the flu virus readily to others,” he says.

And a case of the flu can be severe. Each year it puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital and kills thousands. In fact, between 1976 and 2006, the CDC estimates that annual flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

Don’t have time to visit your doctor? How about stopping off at a drugstore to get the shot? Many pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens offer flu shots. They don’t require appointments and most will file with your insurance company.