New York is considering making the flu vaccine mandatory for all students attending in-person schooling this year, including the Utica-Rome area.

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says the state is "looking at the possibility" of making the flu vaccine mandatory, like neighboring Massachusetts. Massachusetts is requiring all students attending child care, public or private schools, or higher education to get the flu vaccine for attendance.

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The reason behind the move is connected to the coronavirus pandemic. As flu season nears, officials are looking to cut the number of flu tests that need to be conducted.

"That’s because the testing infrastructure for the flu is the same as what’s used to detect the coronavirus. That means there could be less capacity to test for COVID-19 if there’s a surge in flu cases, or vice versa," reports WRVO.

The flu vaccine is currently not a mandatory vaccine in New York State. In recent years, New York has eliminated religious and other non-medical exemptions from mandatory vaccines.

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