TORONTO -- The Ontario government says it’s expanding its COVID-19 vaccine pharmacy program to 700 more locations across the province.

The additional locations will continue offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 55 and older across the province.

The province now has more than 1,400 pharmacy locations offering the vaccine, and that number is expected to reach approximately 1,500 by the end of April, officials said.

MORE: Here is the full list of pharmacies providng the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

"With more local pharmacies coming on board, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be easier and more convenient for eligible populations across the province," Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement on Sunday.

"I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it's their turn.”

The province says the vaccine is coming to pharmacies in hot spot communities to help increase access for populations most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic so far.

The health minister, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Doug Ford all received their AstraZeneca vaccine recently in public in an effort to suppress vaccine hesitancy following concerns about the use of the vaccine.

Last month, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended suspending use of the AstraZeneca shot for people under age 55 after some people who received the vaccine in other countries developed rare blood clots.

However, Health Canada, NACI, and the Ford government maintain that the shot is safe for those 55 years of age and older.

“We are enabling Ontarians to access vaccines conveniently and closer to home by bringing more distribution channels on board," 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.”