Introduction: Most vaccines are administered by intramuscular injection using a hypodermic needle and syringe. Some limitations of this procedure include reluctance to be immunized because of fear of needlesticks, and concerns associated with the safe disposal of needles after their use. Skin delivery is an alternate route of vaccination that has potential to be painless and could even lead to dose reduction of vaccines. Recently, microneedles have emerged as a novel painless approach for delivery of influenza vaccines via the skin. Areas covered: In this review, we briefly summarize the approaches and devices used for skin vaccination, and then focus on studies of skin immunization with influenza vaccines using microneedles. We discuss both the functional immune response and the nature of this immune response following vaccination with microneedles. Expert opinion: The cutaneous administration of influenza vaccines using microneedles offers several advantages: it is painless, elicits stronger immune responses in preclinical studies and could improve responses in high-risk populations. These dry formulations of vaccines provide enhanced stability, a property of high importance in enabling their rapid global distribution in response to possible outbreaks of pandemic influenza and newly emerging infectious diseases.