THE mass coronavirus vaccination centre at Steam has passed the 70,000-dose milestone.

The railway museum was turned into an Covid jab hub last year, led by the Wyvern Health Partnership and Brunel Health Group.

The council’s director of public health Steve Maddern said: “That’s really fantastic, particularly given that this vaccination programme started in December. Phenomenal work from our NHS colleagues and volunteers."

Yesterday – its 50th day – the Adver went along to meet staff.

Strategy and operations manager for Brunel Health Centre Richard Rees told the Adver how it was when the centre first opened.

“Everything was brand new and all kept changing. We were waiting for things like protocols and government guidelines and as they were changing, we moved things all around and went through,” he said.

“It was constantly evolving, It still is. All we can do is adapting.”

He added: “We’ve got a high uptake in all cohorts. Everybody seems to be engaging and go through.

“We’ve got the Red Cross, Swindon Borough Council, lots of volunteers, people from GP surgeries. Nearly all of them are working additional hours. They’ve all been fantastic.”

He remembers when the first patients were called to Steam. “When we started calling the patients, some of them broke down in tears on the phone. You see how much it means.”

Nurse practitioner Lorne Salisbury has been working at Steam since the first day.

She said: “It works beautifully – people turn up, they’re very excited, and lots of our patients have been emotional.

She added: “The volume that we can achieve now has changed dramatically. We can now do over 2,000 a day.”

As of March 29, 99,570 people have been vaccinated across Swindon.

Mr Maddern added: “We have seen some anecdotal issues around people changing their behaviour based on their vaccines status and based on the us of lateral flow testing. Neither of these give licence to any Swindon residents to not follow the guidelines.”

The borough’s seven-day rolling infection rate was 69.3 cases per 100,000 people yesterday, higher than the south west -28.9- and the national average – 54.5.

“We’re always comparing ourselves to the south west, but we don’t have any statistical neighbours in the south west,” Mr Maddern said. “It’s very hard to compare.”