An effort to administer the coronavirus vaccine to about 7,500 residents and 10,000 workers at nursing homes across Rhode Island starts Monday.

It may take several weeks before everyone eligible receives their first dose of the vaccine, being admistered by CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in conjunction with state health officials, authorities said.

The effort will start in long-term care facilities in some of the state's hardest-hit communities.

More than half the facilities in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls will get the vaccine in the first week, state Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken said Sunday. About 1,500 first doses will be administered Monday, he said. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses.

About 70% of Rhode Island's more than 1,700 coronavirus deaths were in residents of nursing homes or assisted living centers, according to state statistics.

“I’m glad we can begin protecting staff and residents. The sooner we can start, the more lives we will save," said Scott Fraser, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Healthcare Association, which represents 64 nursing homes.

Rhode Island hospital workers started getting the vaccine before Christmas.