East Bay Woman Dies Suddenly From H1N1 Flu Virus, USA

H1N1 Flu Alert
Family said 46-year-old Nancy Pinnella died from the H1N1 flu virus on January 25, 2014, four days after she became ill from the virus. (CBS)

The flu outbreak has claimed the life of a woman from the East Bay who once worked at KPIX 5. Nancy Pinnella became sick last week and died a few days later.

People who knew Pinnella thought she was extraordinary and taught others the joy of giving. Friends and family told KPIX 5 that she was kind and also had a sweet tooth.

But in other ways, she was like so many of us and never got a flu shot.

“And I’m equally guilty of not getting a flu shot. I’m not old, I’m not young. So why get one,” said Rich Pinnella, one of Nancy’s brothers.

Nancy’s family got the tragic answer to that question over the weekend, when the otherwise healthy 46-year-old woman died in a Sacramento hospital after contracting the H1N1 flu virus.

“You can sleep the flu off in three or four days. This thing took my sister’s life in that same time frame,” Rich Pinnella said.

According to her family, she left work feeling ill last Tuesday. On Wednesday morning she went to the doctor, and by that night she was on life support. Nancy Pinnella died on Saturday.

“It is vicious, fast, and that’s why my brothers and I are really pushing to get a flu shot. Because it’s not something you get sick and then get your shot. You need to have the preventative before,” said John Pinnella, also a brother of Nancy.

KPIX 5’s Ann Notarangelo went to school with Nancy in Danville and worked with her for some time at the station.

Nancy’s brother Tom Pinnella said, “If her death helps someone else that would have made a very big impact for her.”

Tracy Pierson was one of Nancy’s best friends and has always been afraid the vaccine would make her sick, until now. “Before, it was just in the news. And now, it’s real,” she said.

Pierson will join the 75 others who have gotten a flu shot after hearing about Nancy’s passing. “There’s no reason for me not to. You can flu shots anywhere now,” she said.

“She wouldn’t have wanted her life to be without meaning and I think this gives meaning to her life,” John Pinnella said.

Nancy’s doctors told her family that while the flu shot might not have prevented her from getting sick it would have helped her fight off the virus. They are convinced that she would be alive today if she had the vaccine.

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