EDINBURG — No furrowed brow nor squinting eyes.

A empty vile of COVID-19 vaccine in shown as DHR Health administers their first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Dr. Alex Feigl, an Edinburg-based urologist, held up his sleeve as the COVID-19 vaccine injection pierced his skin Wednesday afternoon at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance Auditorium.

“She’s really good,” Feigl said, motioning to the pharmacist. “I didn’t feel anything.”

Feigl was one of 20 employees who were selected to take the vaccine in a series of “dry runs” held by DHR Health ahead of their mass vaccination, which began Thursday. More employees got their vaccinations after the event held for the media concluded.

The number of DHR staff wanting to take the vaccine increased by Wednesday, as expected, to 75%, which was significantly higher than what employees initially polled. This is accounting for 6,600 people surveyed, according to their Chief Operations Officer Marissa Castañeda.

The hospital had previously surveyed their staff multiple times, asking if they would be in favor of taking the vaccine, with favor wavering.

“We started doing these surveys three weeks ago, and the adoption rate was worrisome,” Dr. Robert Martinez, DHR Health chief medical officer, said of initial polling.

Nearly half of those who participated did not say they favored getting vaccinated.

“It was probably in the neighborhood of anywhere between 40-60% of people who were thinking they wanted to take the vaccine,” Martinez said.

Trepidation over a new vaccine is expected, however.

Other participants wait in line as DHR Health administers their first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“Anytime you get an injection, you should be questioning why you’re getting the injection,” Feigl said, noting some of his physician colleagues are holding back. “I think one misconception a lot of people have is that they think that they can get sick from the vaccine.”

The vaccine is an MRNA vaccine that uses a copy of the spike protein used by the COVID-19 virus to enter the body. The body learns how to identify the virus’ entry point, the spike, and should create an immunological defense against it if and when it should encounter it naturally.

Others may be concerned with the side effects. Feigl said he didn’t notice any soreness at the injection site nor any discernible side effects even hours later.

He hopes more positive experiences like his will help encourage those with faltering opinions.

Feigl, who has a wife and son, was motivated, in part, by his personal responsibility to help those around him.

“I think it’s the right thing to do to make this move, which represents a very low risk and the potential gains of having everybody inoculated are tremendous,” he said. “It’s a step that I think we have to make to get back to some level of normalcy.”

Pharmacist Brigetta Martinez injects the COVID-19 vaccine as DHR Health administers their first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The hospital was issued 5,850 doses, and the administration feels positive they’ll be using them all in the coming days. They plan to vaccinate about 1,400 each day starting Thursday morning at 7 a.m.

The second site, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, began administering their 1,950 doses Tuesday and continued Wednesday.

“In the meantime we’ve been trying to educate people, our own people, our community — and we’ll continue to do that — as to how safe this vaccine is and how effective it is,” Martinez said.