Nurse Eric Vander Lee of South Dakota was preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to his long-time partner, paramedic Robby Vargas, when Vargas proposed. The two frontline workers, who work at Sanford Canton Inwood Medical Center in South Dakota, said getting the vaccine and becoming engaged in the same day was the start of a “whole new chapter.”
Vargas said he had been wanting to propose for a while and was waiting for the “right moment,” and when he found out Vander Lee would be administering the COVID-19 vaccine, he said he thought it would be fun to tie it in.
“Because it was the end of the year, hoping to be towards the end of the pandemic,” Vargas told Inside Edition Digital.
In a video captured of the moment, Vargas rolled up his sleeve for the vaccine, where he had taped the ring, and pulled it out to propose to his partner of five years.
Vander Lee said he was shocked in the moment.
“I told him he'd never be able to surprise me and he completely proved me wrong,” Vander Lee told Inside Edition Digital.
Right after the proposal, duty called for Vargas and he got an ambulance call.
“It was just like engaged, vaccinated, and getting back to the real world of jumping in the ambulance and heading to your calls,” Vargas said.
Vander Lee, who is in school, has been voluntarily picking up shifts to help fight the virus and the year has been exhausting for both of them.
“I don't want to watch the pandemic happen without trying to contribute my skills in some way,” Vander Lee said.
And they are trying to see the silver lining during a hard time for everyone.
“Even this pandemic won't keep the good of our human spirits down,” Vander Lee said.