People struggling to book Covid vaccine and booster appointments across Swindon say they face waiting weeks or travelling miles to receive their jabs.

But the Clinical Commissioning Group, which coordinates the vaccine programme across Swindon, has tried to reassure residents that appointments are released every day – and has urged people to keep checking the site to book.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced booster jabs will be offered to everyone in England who is eligible by the end of January amid concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant.

The CCG’s director of nursing and quality Gill May said “hundreds” of appointments are released each day but acknowledged these get snapped up within minutes.

People anxious about getting jabbed have resorted to travelling to Bath and Oxford from Swindon for appointments. 

Vaccines are currently being administered at STEAM Museum and several pharmacies in Swindon.

Reader Denise Walters told the Adver: “For weeks now I have been trying to get my Covid booster.

“After all, it is all over the papers, TV ads, the news, posters, everywhere.

“The nearest vaccination centre I see is Oxford or Bath. Is this a sick joke? I am now well overdue for my booster. 

“If the government wants us to take responsibility for keeping ourselves and others safe, why can’t they make sure vaccination appointments are available in every town?”

Stephen Cowdry, from Shaw, said: “According to the Prime Minister, temporary vaccination centres are ‘popping up like Christmas trees’ to get booster jabs into arms.

“I have tried to book mine today and the nearest centre available is in Lyneham, seven miles away.

“Also, not in the next few days, but in around three weeks – only a few days before Christmas. Sadly, it appears that Swindon doesn’t have any Christmas trees, this year!”

Becky Thurman told us on Facebook she had to go to Oxford for her husband’s second dose, while Sarah Davis’s husband had to go to Stroud.

And Emma Parsons wrote: “I’ve been trying for weeks to get my second AstraZeneca jab. There are none for miles and the government has scared everyone again. I don’t feel safe being out.”

Sandra Payne agreed: “I’ve had a problem booking. I’m certainly not going to Oxford just for a jab when I know it’s available in Swindon.”

Melanie Jack added: “Every time I search for an available walk-in centre, it only comes up for Bristol, Oxford or Reading. STEAM is never listed.” 

Ms May revealed yesterday that STEAM’s capacity would be expanded and that the CCG was planning to open more pharmacy sites.

She said: “Some of them will be existing sites, looking at more community pharmacists. Of course in other areas, Swindon STEAM taking on more capacity. 

Ms May, whose health body is responsible for Wiltshire and Bath & North East Somerset too, told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “What I really need to reassure the public is that new appointments are put on every day.

“The minute you put on an extra 100 they’re gone.

“One day you might not see something close to you, you could go on in the evening or the next morning and there you see something which is more accessible.

“I promise you all we are ensuring we have access across the patch.

“We do recognise that we’re not going to get this all done in a week but I want to urge everyone please be patient.

“Please do not take it out on our staff. Be kind to them, they are really doing their best but we do understand the frustration.

“Some of our primary care networks, that’s our GP colleagues and those staff – and they’re entitled to – were opting out [of administering vaccines], handing it over to community pharmacies or to large vaccine sites.

“We’re looking at our workforce, a call to arms to ask people if they would like to [get involved with vaccinations].”

A spokesman from the CCG said: “The Swindon area is well served by a wide range of vaccination venues, from the large site at the STEAM Museum, which is able to vaccinate more than 2,000 patients each day, to several local pharmacies, which help bring the vaccine to the heart of many people’s communities.

“New appointments at all of our venues are being added on a regular basis and, while we know the booking process can be frustrating, we kindly ask that people who are unable to secure a vaccination at their preferred venue continue checking the National Booking Service for newly-added slots.

“We are always looking at potential new venues, and are hopeful that more community pharmacies will join the vaccination programme in the coming weeks.”