Health chiefs have moved swiftly to reassure housebound people in Wiltshire that their Covid booster shot IS on the way – after the family of a 96-year-old Marlborough woman raised the alert that she had heard nothing of when her jab was coming.

Local doctors say getting the booster to housebound patients is “a logistical challenge” as the Pfizer vaccine has to be diluted in small batches and then transported very carefully to patients within six hours.

But to help speed up the booster programme across the county – which medical chiefs say will continue into January - drivers from St John Ambulance have now been brought in to taxi medics to the housebound, especially those living in rural areas.

Gary Rawlinson, the elderly Marlborough woman’s son-in-law, told this newspaper: “As exhorted by the Prime Minister, she would love to have a Covid booster jab, but it appears that housebound people like her who live in Marlborough are unable to get one.”

He added: “We were told in October by her GP surgery, the Kennet & Avon Medical Practice (KAMP), that they are not doing Covid booster vaccines, but that she is on a list that is meant to be dealt with by this region’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

“My mother-in-law heard nothing and the surgery had not received any information from the CCG. We have been unable to contact the CCG - unbelievably, 18 months after the first lockdown, its phone number says to leave a message as its staff are all working at home and cannot take calls.

“As you’ll appreciate, at 96 years-old, my mother-in-law was obviously worried, especially as she has visits from carers three times a day who, even if they are fully vaccinated, still pose a risk to her.

“Having spoken to KAMP, I understand that all of its housebound patients who want a booster jab and cannot be taken to a clinic are in a similar situation.”

Following enquiries by this newspaper, KAMP and the CCG quickly responded that the jabs are on their way and Mr Rawlinson was told that his mother-in-law will have her booster by Christmas.

A spokesman for KAMP said: “Please be assured that this important patient group has not been overlooked. Your reader is quite correct that Covid booster vaccines are being delivered to housebound patients by the local NHS Care Commissioning group.

“These patients are being contacted at present, our information is that many in this area have already been vaccinated.

“The delivery of vaccines to housebound patients is a logistical challenge - the Pfizer vaccine has to be diluted in small batches and then transported very carefully to the appropriate number of patients in their own homes within six hours.

“This is a complicated exercise and takes time to organise and deliver. Many housebound patients are considered to be at lower risk of catching Covid than the general population as they are at home and not mixing socially to the same extent.

“We would advise your reader to check that her mother is logged as housebound with her local GP practice and if so to be reassured that she will be contacted by the NHS for her Covid booster.

In a statement, the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group responded: “We fully recognise how important it is to provide the Covid-19 booster vaccine to housebound patients, and we are doing all we can to support our GP colleagues who are currently visiting homes across the region.

“Some patients have already received their booster vaccination, and others will be visited in priority order over the coming weeks, and while we know many people are keen to receive their top-up dose, we do ask for patience while colleagues carry out this logistically-complex programme.

“To help get vaccines out as quickly as possible, drivers from St John Ambulance will be helping to take clinicians across rural areas, and we thank them for their ongoing support.

“It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the number of housebound patients, but we’re looking at potentially a few hundred, and the visits to patients’ homes will continue throughout the remainder of this month, as well as across December and January. “