The media spotlight has fallen on Wycombe this week, but not for the right reasons. The Guardian newspaper reported last Sunday that 1 in 7 households in Wycombe went hungry during the lockdown last year, despite being in one of the most affluent areas of the country. We have been working with local food charities for a number of years and especially during the first lockdown in 2020, so this resonates with what we have experienced.
This also corresponds to the figures released on Sunday 8th August by the government showing certain areas of Wycombe have a low take up of coronavirus vaccines, which is shocking bearing in mind that the area has been particularly affected by the virus. Nationally, approximately 75% of the adult population has now had their second vaccine, this drops to around 68.7% overall in the Wycombe area, with pockets that are around 45%. The lowest vaccine rate appears to be in the most deprived areas of Wycombe, which provides a health injustice that may have long term consequences.
This means that if you were to meet five adults in these areas it is more likely than not that three of them would not be double vaccinated - and two might not have had any jab at all!
We know that approximately 8% of new infections result in hospitalisation and that a larger number, both young and old end up with long covid, some with long term disabilities as a result of catching this virus. Equally as concerning is the likely social impact on people in these areas who remain unvaccinated, as society slowly moves towards the use of vaccine passports, for access to events, social venues, travelling and even some places of work.
As a community organisation, the alarm bells are ringing! We don’t want to see more disadvantage, be it access to employment, food security, health, wellbeing or access to society in general being affected by this pandemic. We will work with other partners and community leaders to try and address this growing dilemma, and we will support local residents in getting access to fact checked information, vaccination centres and drop in events.
We are currently working with Buckinghamshire Council to arrange for the 'Health on the Move' vaccination bus to come to the areas we know have a low take-up and transport might be an issue to people accessing it. We'll share dates and times as soon as we have them, so please keep an eye on our social media channels.
We must work together to stop this becoming a problem that will last for years after the pandemic has passed us by.