Paramedic Proposes To Nurse Boyfriend During COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment

Robbie Vargas-Cortes of South Dakota surprised Eric Vanderlee with an engagement ring hidden up his sleeve during a medical center visit.
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Two South Dakota health care workers began 2021 as fianc茅s and internet stars after footage of their pandemic era engagement went viral.

A paramedic and EMS supervisor, Robbie Vargas-Cortes made an appointment at the Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center last month to receive his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. His boyfriend of five years, Eric Vanderlee, is a registered nurse and one of the center鈥檚 vaccine administrators.

To Vanderlee鈥檚 surprise, however, Vargas-Cortes arrived at the Dec. 23 appointment with an engagement ring taped to his arm. Though it took him a moment to realize what has happening when he rolled back Vargas-Cortes鈥檚 shirt sleeve, Vanderlee happily accepted the proposal as his colleagues applauded.

鈥淚t was just an amazing moment after I figured it out,鈥 Vanderlee told CNN, noting that he still had to administer the vaccine to his fianc茅 after the big gesture.

The Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center uploaded a short video of the proposal to its Facebook page last week. As of Monday afternoon, the clip had received more than 8,000 likes and garnered gushing responses from viewers.

鈥淏est proposal of the year, hands down,鈥 one person wrote. Added another, 鈥淚f you like it you should put a ring and vaccine on it! Congrats!! This is good news!鈥

Speaking to The New York Times, Vanderlee said he volunteered to help distribute the vaccine in December, just weeks after his 86-year old grandfather, Norman, died of COVID-19. 鈥淚 want to be a part of this end,鈥 he said. 鈥淚 feel like I can鈥檛 pass this up. It鈥檚 like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the one giving the vaccine if I have the chance.鈥

And though Vargas-Cortes had the ring for about three years, he said witnessing Vanderlee鈥檚 tenacity during the COVID-19 crisis convinced him that the appointment would be the perfect time to pop the question.

鈥淲e鈥檙e nearing the end of the pandemic,鈥 he told CNN. 鈥淭he vaccine is kind of like a new chapter.鈥

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