RESIDENTS have told of their difficulties tying to get an appointment for a Covid-19 booster jab - with one woman describing the situation as a 'shocking state of affairs'.

It's been almost two months since the lifesaving NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme launched delivering boosters to protect the country against coronavirus.

The NHS says it is making it as easy as possible for people to get vital protection against the virus ahead of the winter and a number of walk-in sites have opened offering the top-up jab. It says further appointments will be made available over the coming weeks.

But the News has been contacted by locals who have told of nightmare experiences trying to get an appointment.

Some have not been able to get into local sites and are instead being directed to clinics miles away, often out of Dorset. At Beaminster where there is a walk-in clinic people have been queueing for hours.

Valerie Dalton, 79, from Shipton Gorge, has a heart condition and says getting her booster is proving to be impossible, having tried for more than two weeks. She asked, 'what the heck is going on?'

She said: "I have tried online and by ringing 119, but for some reason the online version refuses to accept my NHS number in spite of trying three times and 119 has told me there are no dates in the foreseeable future and to just keep trying. I was offered an appointment in Taunton, but have no means of getting there.

"The newspapers are full of pictures of people all over the country, much younger than me and in much better health being jabbed, but they are lucky not to be living in Bridport. Several friends living in Devon and all younger than me have had the booster jab without any of this hassle."

Karen Mackay of Bradpole described it as a 'shocking state of affairs'.

She said: "The drop-in clinic in Beaminster at the weekend had queues forming from 9am and I was told not to bother joining the queue because the vaccine would have run out before I could be seen.

"I have an appointment finally in Wareham. What are vulnerable, elderly people who may not have access to transport supposed to do in this situation?"

Bridport Mayor Ian Bark said he got his jab at Beaminster but said he had to queue for 'a couple of hours'.

He said: “I would say it is not as smooth as previously. Appointments are out there, I know a couple of friends combined their jab with a shopping trip to Yeovil.

“I would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated for yourselves and others. It is important that everyone does their bit to fight the impact of Covid-19."

A spokesman for the Dorset Covid-19 vaccination programme said: “Practices in the Bridport area are providing vaccines to those aged over 80s, patients registered as housebound and care home residents. All other registered patients are being signposted to the national booking service (NBS) or 119 to book their jabs.

“NBS sites in and around the Bridport area include community pharmacies in Bridport or Beaminster. Slightly further afield, sites are available in Chickerell, Dorchester and Yeovil.

“We are keen to remind patients that the six-month period between second dose and booster is a minimum recommended period.

“We know that demand through the national booking system is extremely high and that this is creating difficulties for people trying to book a vaccine in their local area.

“Please keep checking as further appointments will be made available over the coming weeks and we’d like to thank people for their patience during this very busy time for the NHS as we deliver the largest vaccination programme in our history.”