NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – As the nation prepares to celebrate the holidays, a push is on to get people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Testing sites, like one hosted by the New Haven Health Department, are readily available across the Elm City.

“It’s important to me. I think it’s our step into normalcy again. Whatever that looks like,” Pfizer booster shot recipient Tariq Dasent said.

According to the CDC, the unvaccinated are eight times more likely to end up in the hospital, something Dasent is hoping to avoid.

“Holiday season is coming up and my little one is in school and so I’m just trying to protect everyone, myself included,” Dasent said.

Meanwhile, saliva testing is a new way to determine if a person has COVID-19. It’s an option for those opposed to the nasal swab.

“We’re excited about the saliva testing,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said. “We think that’s just going to be easier for folks. It’s a little bit less invasive than the nasal swab.”

There’s more encouraging news as well. Teens aged 16 and 17 are now eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, but for some, barriers still exist to getting vaccinated.

“A lot of young people feel like this is a disease that does not impact them when they have strong immune systems, for example, and there is mistrust and myths around vaccines,” New Haven Director of Public Health Maritza Bond said.

That’s one of the reasons why the CDC continues to classify New Haven as a high transmission location. Added to that concern for Elicker is the recent increase in the omicron cases, something he’s keeping a close eye on.

“And I feel confident that in two to four weeks, omicron will surpass delta as the major variant in the region,” Elicker said.

That’s a crucial reason why people should get vaccinated. On Monday, saliva testing will be conducted in two locations, one at Gateway Community College and the other on the lower New Haven Green.