MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota National Guard stepped up in a big way to keep the state’s vaccination plan on track. Thousands of people will keep their vaccination appointments this weekend thanks to the Guard recovering a misdirected shipment.

The shipment scheduled for Friday morning showed up at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport at 7 p.m. instead.

On short notice, volunteers with the National Guard’s Medical Detachment packed up nearly 4,000 doses and drove through the night to vaccination sites in Rochester, North Mankato, Fergus Falls and Thief River Falls.

“They stayed up all night making sure nothing happened to those vaccines, and then when local health personnel arrived in the morning, they handed those off and vaccinated the vulnerable people up there that truly needed that vaccine,” said Lt. Col. Chris Wolf.

In Thief River Falls, more than five hours away in Pennington County, more than 1,100 people will get their shots this weekend.

The shipment’s arrival was a huge relief for Kayla Jore, Pennington’s public health director.

“We’re in a rural area, so people were driving one to two hours to get their second dose, so [we were] a little bit worried,” she said.

It was a National Guard captain who noticed the shipment was off track in the first place.

Gov. Tim Walz told the story in a Twitter thread Saturday, saying the doses were headed to Texas.

The Guard confirms that Walz contacted the White House and FedEx to get the doses to Minnesota without any more delay.

Walz wrote, “We are lucky in MN to have the heroes of the National Guard always at the ready.”

“Had this been delayed, that could be life changing for some of those people so again, fulfilling for us to be able to save someone’s life,” Wolf said.

Other vaccine appointments in the state had to be rescheduled this weekend because of shipping delays, which was a problem nationwide.

David Schuman