Health Highlights: Jan. 28, 2015

Health Highlights: Jan. 28, 2015

Health Highlights: Jan. 28, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Global Vaccination Program for Poor Children Gets $7.5 Billion

A record $7.5 billion has been pledged by nations and private donors to support a worldwide vaccination program for the poor.

Funding to be received by the public-private Gavi alliance includes $1.57 billion from Britain, $1.55 billion from the Gates Foundation, $969 million from Norway and $800 million from the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Gavi has immunized hundreds of millions of children since 2000.

Added to prior pledges, the new donations give Gavi a total of $9.6 billion to vaccinate an additional 300 million children between 2016 and 2020, the AP reported.

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'Clarity' Needed on E-Cigarettes: U.S. Surgeon Genera

The U.S. Surgeon General says there is a "desperate need" to learn more about electronic cigarettes in order to develop public health policies for the devices.

"There've been theories and ideas around the fact that e-cigarettes may be helpful from a harm reduction perspective in helping people who are already on cigarettes (that) have had trouble quitting actually get off cigarettes," Dr. Vivek Murthy said Tuesday during a visit to Richmond, the Associated Press reported.

"If the data indeed bears that out, then I think we should absolutely embrace that and use e-cigarettes in targeted ways," he added.

However, Murthy noted that there are many unanswered questions about the health effects of e-cigarettes, which are becoming increasingly popular, the AP reported.

"I'm concerned about e-cigarettes, and I think this is an area where we are in desperate need of clarity," Murthy said. "I think it's important for us to understand the impact, particularly on youth, before we allow the full-fledged spread of these e-cigarettes and then later have problems that we have to deal with."

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Health Insurance Enrollment Reaches 9.5 Million

About 9.5 million Americans have signed up for 2015 health coverage under the Obama administration's health care law, and the White House says enrollment is on track to surpass its target.

By mid-January, more than 7.1 million people had signed up in 37 states where the federal government operates insurance markets, and at least another 2.4 million signed up in states that run their own exchanges, the Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The deadline for enrollment is Feb. 15 and administration officials expect a surge of sign-ups just before that date.

The states with the largest numbers of people signing up are: Florida, nearly 1.3 million; California, 1.2 million; Texas, nearly 920,000; North Carolina, nearly 460,000; and Georgia, more than 425,000, the AP reported.

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