TORONTO — More than 700 Ontario pharmacies are joining the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the province races to slow to spread of the virus.
Government officials announced Sunday that the move will rapidly expand availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 55 and over this week.
With the new locations, more than 1,400 pharmacies will offer vaccines, with the province expecting to add another 100 by the end of April.
The announcement came as Ontario reported 4,456 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, marking a new single-day high for new infections.
The latest figures show 21 additional deaths associated with the virus and a sharp rise of new cases in Toronto, which jumped by nearly 400 to 1,353.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 860 in Peel Region and 444 in York Region over the past 24 hours. Ottawa and Durham Region logged daily counts of 377 and 329, respectively.
Ontario's previous new daily record stood at just over 4,200 and was reached on Friday.
Government figures show 1,513 patients currently in Ontario hospitals due to COVID-19, with 605 in intensive care and 382 on a ventilator.
A total of 3,139,743 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario so far.
The province completed 56,378 tests since the last report.
The expansion of the vaccination distribution at pharmacies will make it easier for more Ontarians to get their shot, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
"With the increasing spread of variants of concern and case counts in the thousands each day, we encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and protect yourself and your family," she added.
"For those still waiting, please be patient as your turn is coming."
A list of pharmacies offering vaccinations is available on the province's website: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2021.
The Canadian Press