Kyle Brown and Ben Henry
Updated: February 20, 2021 07:25 PM
Created: February 20, 2021 03:55 PM
More COVID-19 vaccine appointments have been pushed back at Minnesota community clinics across the state as winter storms in other parts of the country have delayed distribution.
The shipping delays have forced the Minnesota Department of Health to postpone Saturday appointments at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Sunday appointments at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester and the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
At the Minneapolis site, it was the second day in a row patients had their appointments canceled. As early as 6 a.m. Saturday, signs were posted on the convention center’s doors letting people know the day’s appointments were postponed — just as they were Friday.
The MDH says it notified all patients whose appointments were affected by the delays and will work with them to reschedule.
However, multiple people still showed up for their appointment both Friday and Saturday. Some — like Denny Lutz of Sauk Rapids —traveled more than an hour, only to turn around without a shot.
At first Lutz said he was very frustrated, but after realizing he did not check his email for a possible notification, he made peace with the postponed appointment.
“That’s the way it goes - there’s no reason to be mad,” Lutz said outside the convention center’s entrance.
According to the MDH, the appointment delays are minor. It also said for anyone on their second dose, a small delay is not a reason to be worried and you won’t have to restart the process.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota National Guard had to scramble to redirect a shipment of vaccines that had wandered away from its destination.
"It should have been a simple trip from IL to MN, but it turned in to quite the epic saga involving the White House, four different states, and finally @MNNationalGuard saving the day with late night deliveries to all four corners of the state," Walz said in a tweet.
Walz explained that a Minnesota National Guard captain tracking roughly 9,000 vaccine doses that were already delayed in arriving from Illinois noticed Thursday night the shipment had somehow been diverted to Texas.
Walz said he had to coordinate with the White House and FedEx to get the shipment back on track — time was of the essence since these were due in Minnesota by Friday night and they were Pfizer vaccines that had to be stored at 90 degrees below zero. Once the doses arrived in Memphis, FedEx was able to get them on the right plane headed to Minnesota.
The doses landed Friday evening at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and members of the Minnesota National Guard Medical Detachment and rushed the doses to four sites in Greater Minnesota. On Saturday morning, those doses were administered at clinics in Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls, North Mankato and Rochester, Walz said.
The story ends today, at vaccination sites in Thief River Falls, Fergus Falls, North Mankato, and Rochester. As of 11am this morning, all sites are open and, after an epic journey, these vaccines are flowing into Minnesotans’ arms. pic.twitter.com/ATGoFFEj8e— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) February 20, 2021
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