There is an urgent need of adjuvants for cutaneous vaccination. Here, we report that micro-sterile inflammation induced at inoculation sites can augment immune responses to influenza vaccines in animal models. The inoculation site is briefly illuminated with a handheld, non-ablative fractional laser before the vaccine is intradermally administered, which creates an array of self-healing microthermal zones (MTZs) in the skin. The dying cells in the MTZs send 'danger' signals that attract a large number of antigen-presenting cells, in particular, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) around each MTZ forming a micro-sterile inflammation array. A pivotal role for pDCs in the adjuvanticity is ascertained by significant abrogation of the immunity after systemic depletion of pDCs, local application of a TNF-α inhibitor or null mutation of IFN regulatory factor7 (IRF7). In contrast to conventional adjuvants that cause persistent inflammation and skin lesions, micro-sterile inflammation enhances efficacy of influenza vaccines, yet with diminished adverse effects.